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Sunday, January 11, 2015

No deal

The role of self-interest in elite bargaining

Brad LeVeck et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 30 December 2014, Pages 18536-18541

Abstract:
One of the best-known and most replicated laboratory results in behavioral economics is that bargainers frequently reject low offers, even when it harms their material self-interest. This finding could have important implications for international negotiations on many problems facing humanity today, because models of international bargaining assume exactly the opposite: that policy makers are rational and self-interested. However, it is unknown whether elites who engage in diplomatic bargaining will similarly reject low offers because past research has been based almost exclusively on convenience samples of undergraduates, members of the general public, or small-scale societies rather than highly experienced elites who design and bargain over policy. Using a unique sample of 102 policy and business elites who have an average of 21 y of practical experience conducting international diplomacy or policy strategy, we show that, compared with undergraduates and the general public, elites are actually more likely to reject low offers when playing a standard "ultimatum game" that assesses how players bargain over a fixed resource. Elites with more experience tend to make even higher demands, suggesting that this tendency only increases as policy makers advance to leadership positions. This result contradicts assumptions of rational self-interested behavior that are standard in models of international bargaining, and it suggests that the adoption of global agreements on international trade, climate change, and other important problems will not depend solely on the interests of individual countries, but also on whether these accords are seen as equitable to all member states.

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What Is Typical Is Good: The Influence of Face Typicality on Perceived Trustworthiness

Carmel Sofer et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The role of face typicality in face recognition is well established, but it is unclear whether face typicality is important for face evaluation. Prior studies have focused mainly on typicality's influence on attractiveness, although recent studies have cast doubt on its importance for attractiveness judgments. Here, we argue that face typicality is an important factor for social perception because it affects trustworthiness judgments, which approximate the basic evaluation of faces. This effect has been overlooked because trustworthiness and attractiveness judgments have a high level of shared variance for most face samples. We show that for a continuum of faces that vary on a typicality-attractiveness dimension, trustworthiness judgments peak around the typical face. In contrast, perceived attractiveness increases monotonically past the typical face, as faces become more like the most attractive face. These findings suggest that face typicality is an important determinant of face evaluation.

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Changes in Eye Contact and Attraction Scores Relative to Ostracism and Dissent

Johny Garner & Debra Iba
Small Group Research, February 2015, Pages 3-26

Abstract:
Ostracism casts a number of harms on group members who are targets, yet little is known about the behaviors which can lead group members to become ostracism targets. Here, we investigated whether dissent - an important and beneficial behavior for group decision making - led the group to ostracize the members who voiced dissent. This study examined ostracism and two types of dissent - disagreement with the group's decision-making process and disagreement with specific ideas. Confederates who dissented with ideas were ostracized, as evidenced by lower attraction scores when compared to confederates in control groups. By contrast, process dissenters were not ostracized. Rather, eye contact with process dissenters was significantly higher than eye contact with confederates in control groups. These results suggest that questioning a group's decision-making process may be one way to draw the attention of the group without being ostracized whereas challenging the prevailing decision itself may subject the dissenter to social exclusion.

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Social Status Modulates Prosocial Behavior and Egalitarianism in Preschool Children and Adults

Ana Guinote et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Humans are a cooperative species, capable of altruism and the creation of shared norms that ensure fairness in society. However, individuals with different educational, cultural, economic, or ethnic backgrounds differ in their levels of social investment and endorsement of egalitarian values. We present four experiments showing that subtle cues to social status (i.e., prestige and reputation in the eyes of others) modulate prosocial orientation. The experiments found that individuals who experienced low status showed more communal and prosocial behavior, and endorsed more egalitarian life goals and values compared with those who experienced high status. Behavioral differences across high- and low-status positions appeared early in human ontogeny (4-5 y of age).

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The dual function of social gaze

Matthias Gobel, Heejung Kim & Daniel Richardson
Cognition, March 2015, Pages 359-364

Abstract:
Ears cannot speak, lips cannot hear, but eyes can both signal and perceive. For human beings, this dual function makes the eyes a remarkable tool for social interaction. For psychologists trying to understand eye movements, however, their dual function causes a fundamental ambiguity. In order to contrast signaling and perceiving functions of social gaze, we manipulated participants' beliefs about social context as they looked at the same stimuli. Participants watched videos of faces of higher and lower ranked people, while they themselves were filmed. They believed either that the recordings of them would later be seen by the people in the videos or that no-one would see them. This manipulation significantly changed how participants responded to the social rank of the target faces. Specifically, when they believed that the targets would later be looking at them, and so could use gaze to signal information, participants looked proportionally less at the eyes of the higher ranked targets. We conclude that previous claims about eye movements and face perception that are based on a single social context can only be generalized with caution. A complete understanding of face perception needs to address both functions of social gaze.

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Sensitivity to Changing Contingencies Predicts Social Success

Richard Ronay & William von Hippel
Social Psychological and Personality Science, January 2015, Pages 23-30

Abstract:
To adapt one's behavior to suit changing social contingencies, it is necessary to be skillful at detecting such changing contingencies in the first place. As a consequence, the ability to detect changing contingencies (reversal learning) should predict social competence across both competitive and cooperative social settings. Consistent with this possibility, Study 1 revealed that better reversal learning predicted more effective conflict management and partner happiness within romantic relationships. Studies 2a and 2b found that better reversal learning predicted less satisfied negotiation partners, an effect mediated by the positive relationship between reversal-learning performance and value gained from the negotiation. In Study 3, better reversal learning predicted greater partner cooperation and more favorable outcomes in a multi-round prisoners' dilemma game. These results suggest that the capacity to detect changing contingencies, and thereby modify one's behavior in response to a socially dynamic world, facilitates interpersonal competence across a variety of social domains.

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Artful Paltering: The Risks and Rewards of Using Truthful Statements to Mislead Others

Todd Rogers et al.
Harvard Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract:
We document a common type of deception in interpersonal contexts: paltering, the active use of truthful statements to convey a mistaken impression. Paltering is distinct from lies of commission in that it involves only truthful statements. It is distinct from lies of omission in that it involves actively misleading targets rather than passively omitting to share relevant information. A pilot study reveals that paltering is a common negotiation tactic. Six experiments demonstrate that paltering in negotiation can help palterers claim value, but can also increase the likelihood of impasse and harm palterers' reputations. Indeed, targets perceive paltering as the ethical equivalent of making false statements. At the same time, palterers - and outside observers - perceive paltering as more ethical than targets do. We add to the growing literature examining the antecedents and consequences of deception, demonstrating the prevalence and consequences of paltering in negotiation.

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Flipping the Switch: Power, Social Dominance, and Expectancies of Mental Energy Change

Patrick Egan & Edward Hirt
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research suggests that high levels of interpersonal power can promote enhanced executive functioning capabilities. The present work explored whether this effect is contingent upon expectancies concerning power's downstream cognitive consequences. Study 1 showed that social dominance orientation (SDO) predicted idiosyncratic expectancies of mental energy change toward interpersonal power. Study 2 showed that SDO moderated the executive functioning changes associated with interpersonal power and that this moderation effect was contingent upon changes in perceived mental depletion. Study 3 showed that directly manipulating expectancies of mental energy change concerning interpersonal power moderated the executive functioning consequences of power and that this moderation effect was contingent upon SDO and changes in perceived mental depletion. Together, the present findings underscore the importance of expectancies and individual differences in understanding the effects of interpersonal power.

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The Downside of Looking Like a Leader: Power, Nonverbal Confidence, and Participative Decision-Making

Connson Locke & Cameron Anderson
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
An abundance of evidence suggests that exhibiting a confident nonverbal demeanor helps individuals ascend social hierarchies. The current research examines some of the implications of having individuals in positions of power who exhibit such nonverbal confidence. Three studies examined dyads that worked together on decision-making tasks. It was found that people participated less in a discussion when they interacted with a powerful individual who exhibited confidence than when a powerful individual did not exhibit confidence. Moreover, people who interacted with a confident powerful individual participated less because they viewed that individual to be more competent. People even deferred to the confident powerful individual's opinions when that individual was wrong, leading to suboptimal joint decisions. Moderation analyses suggest the powerful individual was able to mitigate the effects of a confident demeanor somewhat by also showing an open nonverbal demeanor.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Mixed up

Preferences vs. Opportunities: Racial/Ethnic Intermarriage in the United States

Seul-ki Shin
University of Pennsylvania Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
This paper develops and implements a new approach for separately identifying preference and opportunity parameters of a two-sided search and matching model in the absence of data on choice sets. This approach exploits information on the dynamics of matches: how long it takes for singles to form matches, what types of matches they form, and how long the matches last. Willingness to accept a certain type of partner can be revealed through the dissolution of matches. Given recovered acceptance rules, the rates at which singles meet different types are inferred from the observed transitions from singlehood to matches. Imposing equilibrium conditions links acceptance rules and arrival rates to underlying preference and opportunity parameters. Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, I apply this method to examine the marriage patterns of non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics in the United States. Results indicate that the observed infrequency of intermarriage is primarily attributable to a low incidence of interracial/interethnic meetings rather than same-race/ethnicity preferences. Simulations based on the estimated model show the effects of demographic changes on marital patterns.

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Experimental Effects of Exposure to Pornography: The Moderating Effect of Personality and Mediating Effect of Sexual Arousal

Gert Martin Hald & Neil Malamuth
Archives of Sexual Behavior, January 2015, Pages 99-109

Abstract:
Using a randomly selected community sample of 200 Danish young adult men and women in a randomized experimental design, the study investigated the effects of a personality trait (agreeableness), past pornography consumption, and experimental exposure to non-violent pornography on attitudes supporting violence against women (ASV). We found that lower levels of agreeableness and higher levels of past pornography consumption significantly predicted ASV. In addition, experimental exposure to pornography increased ASV but only among men low in agreeableness. This relationship was found to be significantly mediated by sexual arousal with sexual arousal referring to the subjective assessment of feeling sexually excited, ready for sexual activities, and/or bodily sensations associated with being sexually aroused. In underscoring the importance of individual differences, the results supported the hierarchical confluence model of sexual aggression and the media literature on affective engagement and priming effects.

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Men’s hunger, food consumption, and preferences for female body types: A replication and extension of Nelson and Morrison’s (2005) study

Nicolas Guéguen
Social Psychology, November/December 2014, Pages 495-497

Abstract:
Nelson and Morrison (2005, study 3) reported that men who feel hungry preferred heavier women. The present study replicates these results by using real photographs of women and examines the mediation effect of hunger scores. Men were solicited while entering or leaving a restaurant and asked to report their hunger on a 10-point scale. Afterwards, they were presented with three photographs of a woman in a bikini: One with a slim body type, one with a slender body type, and one with a slightly chubby body. The participants were asked to indicate their preference. Results showed that the participants entering the restaurant preferred the chubby body type more while satiated men preferred the thinner or slender body types. It was also found that the relation between experimental conditions and the choices of the body type was mediated by men’s hunger scores.

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Hooking up during the college years: Is there a pattern?

Patricia Roberson, Spencer Olmstead & Frank Fincham
Culture, Health & Sexuality, forthcoming

Abstract:
Hook ups are sexual encounters that can include a variety of behaviours (e.g., kissing to intercourse) with no expectation of future contact or a committed relationship. Although hooking up is reported to be common on college campuses across the USA, little is known about whether the frequency of hooking up changes over the course of the college experience. Using cross-sectional data and the covariates alcohol use, gender and relationship status, we examined a synthetic cohort of undergraduate students (n = 1003) on rates of hooking up using (1) logistic regression and (2) an applied form of survival analysis. Whereas both analytic techniques produced similar results, survival analysis provided a more complete picture by showing an increase in the rate of hooking up that peaked between spring semester of the first year of college and autumn semester of the second year of college, followed by a gradual decline in hook up rates over subsequent semesters. Findings indicate that gender is significantly related to hooking up in the logistic regression analysis, with women reporting fewer hook ups; however, gender was not significantly related to hooking up in the survival analysis, indicating that there are no differences in the pattern across cohorts. Implications for promoting the sexual health of college students and future research are discussed.

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Morningness–eveningness and intrasexual competition in men

Davide Ponzi et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, April 2015, Pages 228–231

Abstract:
A growing body of research points to a relationship between chronotype and socio-sexuality, especially in men, such that evening-types appear both to be more short-term mating oriented than morning-types and to possess more personality traits and other behavioral characteristics that facilitate sexual promiscuity. This study contributes to and expands this body of research by investigating the relationship between chronotype and intra-sexual competition. We tested the prediction that, in a subject population of young heterosexual men, evening-types would score higher on intra-sexual competition in the context of mating. The results were consistent with our prediction and showed that the association between chronotype and intra-sexual competitiveness is not the by-product of correlations with personality measures. Higher intra-sexual competitiveness in men who are evening-types may contribute to their higher short-term mating success reported by previous studies. Evolutionary hypotheses testing predictions derived from sexual selection or life history theory can make a significant contribution to our understanding of the functional significance of inter-individual variation in chronotype and its associated psychological and behavioral traits.

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Mate choice, mate preference, and biological markets: The relationship between partner choice and health preference is modulated by women’s own attractiveness

Joanna Wincenciak et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although much of the research on human mate preference assumes that mate preference and partner choice will be related to some extent, evidence for correlations between mate preference and mate choice is mixed. Inspired by biological market theories of mate choice, which propose that individuals with greater market value will be better placed to translate their preference into choice, we investigated whether participants’ own attractiveness modulated the relationship between their preference and choice. Multilevel modeling showed that experimentally assessed preferences for healthy-looking other-sex faces predicted third-party ratings of partner’s facial health better among women whose faces were rated as more attractive by third parties. This pattern of results was not seen for men. These results suggest that the relationship between mate preference and mate choice may be more complex than was assumed in previous research, at least among women. Our results also highlight the utility of biological market theories for understanding the links between mate preference and partner choice.

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Mating strategy, disgust, and food neophobia

Laith Al-Shawaf et al.
Appetite, February 2015, Pages 30–35

Abstract:
Food neophobia and disgust are commonly thought to be linked, but this hypothesis is typically implicitly assumed rather than directly tested. Evidence for the connection has been based on conceptually and empirically unsound measures of disgust, unpublished research, and indirect findings. This study (N = 283) provides the first direct evidence of a relationship between trait-level food neophobia and trait-level pathogen disgust. Unexpectedly, we also found that food neophobia varies as a function of sexual disgust and is linked to mating strategy. Using an evolutionary framework, we propose a novel hypothesis that may account for these previously undiscovered findings: the food neophilia as mating display hypothesis. Our discussion centers on future research directions for discriminatively testing this novel hypothesis.

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More Lessons from the Hadza about Men’s Work

Kristen Hawkes, James O’Connell & Nicholas Blurton Jones
Human Nature, December 2014, Pages 596-619

Abstract:
Unlike other primate males, men invest substantial effort in producing food that is consumed by others. The Hunting Hypothesis proposes this pattern evolved in early Homo when ancestral mothers began relying on their mates’ hunting to provision dependent offspring. Evidence for this idea comes from hunter-gatherer ethnography, but data we collected in the 1980s among East African Hadza do not support it. There, men targeted big game to the near exclusion of other prey even though they were rarely successful and most of the meat went to others, at significant opportunity cost to their own families. Based on Hadza data collected more recently, Wood and Marlowe contest our position, affirming the standard view of men’s foraging as family provisioning. Here we compare the two studies, identify similarities, and show that emphasis on big game results in collective benefits that would not be supplied if men foraged mainly to provision their own households. Male status competition remains a likely explanation for Hadza focus on big game, with implications for hypotheses about the deeper past.

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Women’s pathogen disgust predicting preference for facial masculinity may be specific to age and study design

Anthony Lee & Brendan Zietsch
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Facial masculinity in men is thought to be an indicator of good health. Consistent with this idea, previous research has found a positive association between pathogen avoidance (disgust sensitivity) and preference for facial masculinity. However, previous studies are solely based on young adult participants and targets, using forced-choice preference measures; this begs the question whether the findings generalise to other adult age groups or other preference measures. We address this by conducting three studies assessing facial masculinity preferences of women of a wider age range rating target face of a wider age range. In Studies 1 and 2, 447 and 433 women respectively made forced choices between two identical faces that were manipulated on masculinity/femininity. In Study 1, face stimuli were manipulated on sexual dimorphism using age-matched templates, while in Study 2 young face stimuli were manipulated with older templates and older face stimuli were manipulated using young templates. In the full sample for Study 1, no association was found between women’s pathogen disgust and masculinity preference, but when limiting the sample to younger women rating younger faces we replicated previous findings of significant association between pathogen disgust and preference for facial masculinity. Results for Study 2 found no effect of pathogen disgust sensitivity on facial masculinity preferences regardless of participant and stimuli age. In Study 3, the facial masculinity preferences of 386 women were revealed through their attractiveness ratings of natural (unmanipulated) faces. Here, we did not find a significant association of pathogen disgust on facial masculinity preferences, regardless of participant and stimuli age. These results call into question the robustness of the link between women’s pathogen avoidance and facial masculinity preference, and raise questions as to why the effect is specific to younger adults and the forced-choice preference measure.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, January 9, 2015

Police academy

The Effect of Police Body-Worn Cameras on Use of Force and Citizens’ Complaints Against the Police: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Barak Ariel, William Farrar & Alex Sutherland
Journal of Quantitative Criminology, forthcoming

Objective: Police use-of-force continues to be a major source of international concern, inviting interest from academics and practitioners alike. Whether justified or unnecessary/excessive, the exercise of power by the police can potentially tarnish their relationship with the community. Police misconduct can translate into complaints against the police, which carry large economic and social costs. The question we try to answer is: do body-worn-cameras reduce the prevalence of use-of-force and/or citizens’ complaints against the police?

Methods: We empirically tested the use of body-worn-cameras by measuring the effect of videotaping police–public encounters on incidents of police use-of-force and complaints, in randomized-controlled settings. Over 12 months, we randomly-assigned officers to “experimental-shifts” during which they were equipped with body-worn HD cameras that recorded all contacts with the public and to “control-shifts” without the cameras (n = 988). We nominally defined use-of-force, both unnecessary/excessive and reasonable, as a non-desirable response in police–public encounters. We estimate the causal effect of the use of body-worn-videos on the two outcome variables using both between-group differences using a Poisson regression model as well as before-after estimates using interrupted time-series analyses.

Results: We found that the likelihood of force being used in control conditions were roughly twice those in experimental conditions. Similarly, a pre/post analysis of use-of-force and complaints data also support this result: the number of complaints filed against officers dropped from 0.7 complaints per 1,000 contacts to 0.07 per 1,000 contacts. We discuss the findings in terms of theory, research methods, policy and future avenues of research on body-worn-videos.

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The Impact of Gun Ownership Rates on Crime Rates: A Methodological Review of the Evidence

Gary Kleck
Journal of Criminal Justice, January–February 2015, Pages 40–48

Purpose: This paper reviews 41 English-language studies that tested the hypothesis that higher gun prevalence levels cause higher crime rates, especially higher homicide rates.

Methods: Each study was assessed as to whether it solved or reduced each of three critical methodological problems: (1) whether a validated measure of gun prevalence was used, (2) whether the authors controlled for more than a handful of possible confounding variables, and (3) whether the researchers used suitable causal order procedures to deal with the possibility of crime rates affecting gun rates, instead of the reverse.

Results: It was found that most studies did not solve any of these problems, and that research that did a better job of addressing these problems was less likely to support the more-guns-cause-more-crime hypothesis. Indeed, none of the studies that solved all three problems supported the hypothesis.

Conclusions: Technically weak research mostly supports the hypothesis, while strong research does not. It must be tentatively concluded that higher gun ownership rates do not cause higher crime rates, including homicide rates.

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Summer jobs reduce violence among disadvantaged youth

Sara Heller
Science, 5 December 2014, Pages 1219-1223

Abstract:
Every day, acts of violence injure more than 6000 people in the United States. Despite decades of social science arguing that joblessness among disadvantaged youth is a key cause of violent offending, programs to remedy youth unemployment do not consistently reduce delinquency. This study tests whether summer jobs, which shift focus from remediation to prevention, can reduce crime. In a randomized controlled trial among 1634 disadvantaged high school youth in Chicago, assignment to a summer jobs program decreases violence by 43% over 16 months (3.95 fewer violent-crime arrests per 100 youth). The decline occurs largely after the 8-week intervention ends. The results suggest the promise of using low-cost, well-targeted programs to generate meaningful behavioral change, even with a problem as complex as youth violence.

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Does What Police Do at Hot Spots Matter? The Philadelphia Policing Tactics Experiment

Elizabeth Groff et al.
Criminology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Policing tactics that are proactive, focused on small places or groups of people in small places, and tailor specific solutions to problems using careful analysis of local conditions seem to be effective at reducing violent crime. But which tactics are most effective when applied at hot spots remains unknown. This article documents the design and implementation of a randomized controlled field experiment to test three policing tactics applied to small, high-crime places: 1) foot patrol, 2) problem-oriented policing, and 3) offender-focused policing. A total of 81 experimental places were identified from the highest violent crime areas in Philadelphia (27 areas were judged amenable to each policing tactic). Within each group of 27 areas, 20 places were randomly assigned to receive treatment and 7 places acted as controls. Offender-focused sites experienced a 42 percent reduction in all violent crime and a 50 percent reduction in violent felonies compared with their control places. Problem-oriented policing and foot patrol did not significantly reduce violent crime or violent felonies. Potential explanations of these findings are discussed in the contexts of dosage, implementation, and hot spot stability over time.

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“It takes skills to take a car”: Perceptual and procedural expertise in carjacking

Volkan Topalli, Scott Jacques & Richard Wright
Aggression and Violent Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article explores the crucial role played by criminal expertise in carjacking, a violent street offense that exhibits characteristics of both car theft and robbery. Specifically, it describes the manner in which an offender’s perceptual skills (aimed at discerning the suitability of a carjacking target) and procedural skills (aimed at enacting the carjacking offense itself) relate to one another in a process emanating from the interacting characteristics of the vehicle, driver, environment, and offender. The core assumption of this perspective is that carjacking requires considerable skill to identify an appropriate offense opportunity and carry out the same. This contradicts a prevailing notion within the criminological literature that offending is a largely unskilled enterprise. Drawing on ethnographic data both original and in previous research we demonstrate this not to be the case.

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Can Incarcerated Felons Be (Re)integrated into the Political System? Results from a Field Experiment

Alan Gerber et al.
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
How does America's high rate of incarceration shape political participation? Few studies have examined the direct effects of incarceration on patterns of political engagement. Answering this question is particularly relevant for the 93% of formerly incarcerated individuals who are eligible to vote. Drawing on new administrative data from Connecticut, we present evidence from a field experiment showing that a simple informational outreach campaign to released felons can recover a large proportion of the reduction in participation observed following incarceration. The treatment effect estimates imply that efforts to reintegrate released felons into the political process can substantially reduce the participatory consequences of incarceration.

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Does Economic Freedom Really Kill? On the Association between ‘Neoliberal’ Policies and Homicide Rates

Christian Bjørnskov
European Journal of Political Economy, March 2015, Pages 207–219

Abstract:
This paper investigates recent claims that ‘neoliberal’ policies and reforms are associated with higher homicide rates and other types of crime. Using a panel of the 50 US states observed between 1981 and 2011 and the Economic Freedom Index of the Fraser Institute, results show that there is no direct association between changes in economic policies as measured by this index and homicide rates. The results nevertheless show that other non-violent types of crime decrease with spending or tax policy.

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Sexually Coercive Behavior Following Childhood Maltreatment

Mats Forsman et al.
Archives of Sexual Behavior, January 2015, Pages 149-156

Abstract:
Child maltreatment is associated with adult sexually coercive behavior. The association may be causal or confounders that increase the risk of both childhood victimization and sexually coercive behavior might explain the observed links. We examined if childhood maltreatment was related to sexual coercion independently of familial (genetic or common family environment) risk factors, thereby addressing potential causality. Participants were 6,255 18 to 33-year-old twins from the Finnish population-based study “Genetics of Sex and Aggression” who responded to self-report questionnaires of child maltreatment and sexually coercive behavior. We used generalized estimating equations to elucidate risk of sexual coercion in maltreated compared to unrelated, non-maltreated individuals. To adjust for unmeasured familial factors, we used the co-twin control method and compared sexual coercion risk within maltreatment-discordant twin pairs. Further, we examined possible differential effects of maltreatment subtypes and compared mean differences in maltreatment summary scores between sexually coercive individuals and controls. Sexual coercion was moderately more common among individuals maltreated as children versus unrelated controls (38.3 vs. 22.8 %; age- and gender-adjusted odds ratio, aOR = 2.31, 95 % CI 1.75–3.05) and the risk increase remained similar within maltreatment-discordant twins (OR = 2.82, 95 % CI 1.42–5.61). Moreover, different maltreatment subtypes predicted sexual coercion equally well and effect sizes remained similar within discordant twin pairs. We conclude that associations between child maltreatment and sexual coercion are largely independent of shared familial confounds, consistent with a causal inference. Importantly, detection and targeted interventions for maltreated children should remain a priority to reduce societal sexually coercive behavior.

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Perceptions of Police Practice, Cynicism of Police Performance, and Persistent Neighborhood Violence: An Intersecting Relationship

Nicholas Corsaro, James Frank & Murat Ozer
Journal of Criminal Justice, January–February 2015, Pages 1–11

Purpose: A growing literature indicates that legal cynicism at the neighborhood level corresponds with retaliatory homicides and persistent homicide rates, net of controls. However, no study to date has examined: a) how cynicism of police performance might be influenced by specific experiences with and perceptions of the police, and b) whether neighborhood cynicism of police performance is associated with violent crime beyond homicides.

Method: This study analyzed citizen and neighborhood data from Cincinnati, Ohio in the late 1990s - a social setting that had antagonistic police-community relationships.

Results: The results revealed that perceived unjust policing was the strongest individual level correlate of cynicism of police services, and that aggregate levels of cynicism predicted both homicides and overall violence above and beyond social disorganization as well as previous levels of violence.

Conclusion: We speak to the importance of these findings in terms of identifying which police-community factors seemingly have the greatest likelihood to facilitate the association between cynicism and persistent neighborhood violence.

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Group Differences in Delinquency: What Is There to Explain?

Richard Felson & Derek Kreager
Race and Justice, January 2015, Pages 58-87

Abstract:
Race and ethnic difference in delinquency are examined using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. We argue that crime theories that attempt to explain race and ethnic differences imply consistent effects for different offenses and common mediating processes. Analyses suggest some degree of group consistency in delinquent behaviors for Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Native Americans, and some Asian groups, but not for African Americans. Black youth have higher rates of violent offenses than White youth, lower rates of substance use, and similar rates of property offending. Some variables are consistent mediators while others are not. Crime theories can account for the low rates of delinquency among Asian Americans while theories of violence and substance use are needed to understand differences between Black and White youth. The findings are inconsistent with the idea that group differences among youth are due to the socioeconomic status of their families or neighborhoods. The race patterns are also inconsistent with the stereotype of high crime rates in Black communities.

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Impact of California firearms sales laws and dealer regulations on the illegal diversion of guns

Glenn Pierce, Anthony Braga & Garen Wintemute
Injury Prevention, forthcoming

Objective: The available evidence suggests that more restrictive state firearm sales laws can reduce criminal access to guns. California has firearm-related laws that are more stringent than many other states and regulates its retail firearms dealers to a unique degree. This research seeks to examine the effect of more restrictive state gun laws and regulations on the illegal diversion of guns to criminals.

Design: Survival analyses are used to determine whether state firearm sales laws, particularly California's legal context and regulatory regime, impact the distribution of time-to-crime of recovered firearms in that state relative to other US states.

Subjects: 225 392 traced firearms, where the first retail purchasers and the gun possessors were different individuals, recovered by law enforcement agencies between 2003 and 2006.

Results: The increased stringency of state-level firearms laws and regulations leads to consistently older firearms being recovered. California was associated with the oldest recovered crime guns compared with guns associated with other states. These patterns persisted regardless of whether firearms were first purchased within the recovery state or in another state.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that more restrictive gun sales laws and gun dealer regulations do make it more difficult for criminals to acquire new guns first purchased at retail outlets.

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A Simple Model of Optimal Deterrence and Incapacitation

Steven Shavell
International Review of Law and Economics, June 2015, Pages 13–19

Abstract:
The deterrence of crime and its reduction through incapacitation are studied in a simple multiperiod model of crime and law enforcement. Optimal imprisonment sanctions and the optimal probability of sanctions are determined. A point of emphasis is that the incapacitation of individuals is often socially desirable even when they are potentially deterrable. The reason is that successful deterrence may require a relatively high probability of sanctions and thus a relatively high enforcement expense. In contrast, incapacitation may yield benefits no matter how low the probability of sanctions is — implying that incapacitation may be superior to deterrence.

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Relationships Between Denial, Risk, and Recidivism in Sexual Offenders

Leigh Harkins et al.
Archives of Sexual Behavior, January 2015, Pages 157-166

Abstract:
The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between denial, static risk, and sexual recidivism for offenders with different types of current sexual offense. Denial was defined as failure to accept responsibility for the current offense and was assessed using the Offender Assessment System. Static risk level (measured using a revised version of the Risk Matrix 2000) was examined as a moderator in the relationship between denial and sexual and violent recidivism. In the full sample (N = 6,891), lower levels of sexual recidivism were found for those who denied responsibility for their offense, independent of static risk in a Cox regression analysis. Higher levels of violent recidivism among those denying responsibility were not significant after controlling for static risk using Cox regression. For specific offender types, denial of responsibility was not significantly associated with sexual or violent recidivism. In conclusion, the presumption that denial represents increased risk, which is common in much of the decision making surrounding sex offenders, should be reconsidered. Instead, important decisions regarding sentencing, treatment, and release decisions should be based on empirically supported factors.

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Trends in Conflict: Uniform Crime Reports, the National Crime Victimization Surveys, and the Lethality of Violent Crime

Douglas Eckberg
Homicide Studies, February 2015, Pages 58-87

Abstract:
Previous research has found reduced mortality from aggravated assaults, attributed to medical care improvements. However, aggravated assault has limitations as a longitudinal measure of injuries from violence. The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) can address this by providing estimates of serious injuries from criminal victimization. Their lethality trend is not compatible with the previous finding across 1973 through 1999, remaining stable rather than falling. After 1999, both Uniform Crime Reports (UCR)-and NCVS-based measures indicate increases in lethality. The trend differences raise serious problems of data choice for the researcher.

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Reducing Sexual Victimization among Adolescent Girls: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial of My Voice, My Choice

Lorelei Simpson Rowe, Ernest Jouriles & Renee McDonald
Behavior Therapy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite extensive efforts to develop and implement programs to prevent sexual violence, few programs have empirically-demonstrated efficacy. The primary exceptions are programs that emphasize risk-reduction skills; yet even these programs are not consistently effective. This study seeks to add to the literature by evaluating the effects of My Voice, My Choice (MVMC), a 90-minute, assertive resistance training program that emphasizes skill practice in an immersive virtual environment (IVE). We hypothesized that MVMC would reduce male-to-female sexual violence victimization among adolescent girls over a 3-month follow-up period. We also examined whether these results would generalize to other forms of male-to-female relationship violence and to girls’ psychological distress. Eighty-three female students from an urban public high school were randomized to MVMC (n = 47) or to a wait-list control condition (n = 36); 78 provided data over the 3-month follow-up period. Participants assigned to MVMC were less likely than control participants to report sexual victimization during the follow-up period. Our results also suggest that MVMC reduced risk for psychological victimization and for psychological distress among participants with greater prior victimization at baseline. The promising results of this pilot trial suggest that MVMC may help girls evade male-to-female relationship violence.

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A Longitudinal Study of Risk Factors for Repeated Sexual Coercion and Assault in U.S. College Men

Heidi Zinzow & Martie Thompson
Archives of Sexual Behavior, January 2015, Pages 213-222

Abstract:
The purpose of the current study was to understand the prevalence, severity, and predictors of repeated sexual coercion and assault (SCA) in a non-criminal sample. Participants were 795 college men who were surveyed at the end of each of their 4 years in college. Participants completed self-report inventories once per year for 4 years. Measures assessed demographics, adverse childhood experiences, offense characteristics, antisocial personality characteristics, attitudes towards women and forced sex, perceived social norms, sexual behavior, and substance use. Results indicated that, among the 238 participants who reported at least once incident of SCA, 68 % engaged in repeated SCA, with repeat offenders engaging in aggressive acts of higher severity that began at an earlier age. A multinomial logistic regression model compared single and repeat offenders to non-perpetrators. Both single and repeat offenders endorsed more risky behaviors and sexually aggressive beliefs than non-perpetrators. Single offenders were higher on childhood adversity than non-perpetrators and repeat offenders were higher on antisocial personality traits than non-perpetrators. A second multivariate model compared single offenders to repeat offenders. Repeat offenders scored higher than single offenders on risky behaviors, sexually aggressive beliefs, and antisocial traits. Findings highlight the high prevalence of repeated SCA in young adults, the need for interventions that decrease rape supportive attitudes and risky substance use, and the importance of expanding models of sexual recidivism to include multiple risk factors.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Choice pro

Liberals Think More Analytically (More "WEIRD") Than Conservatives

Thomas Talhelm et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Henrich, Heine, and Norenzayan summarized cultural differences in psychology and argued that people from one particular culture are outliers: people from societies that are Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic (WEIRD). This study shows that liberals think WEIRDer than conservatives. In five studies with more than 5,000 participants, we found that liberals think more analytically (an element of WEIRD thought) than moderates and conservatives. Study 3 replicates this finding in the very different political culture of China, although it held only for people in more modernized urban centers. These results suggest that liberals and conservatives in the same country think as if they were from different cultures. Studies 4 to 5 show that briefly training people to think analytically causes them to form more liberal opinions, whereas training them to think holistically causes shifts to more conservative opinions.

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Playing the Field: The Effect of Fertility on Women's Desire for Variety

Kristina Durante & Ashley Rae Arsena
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research finds that ovulation - the time each month when women are most fertile - can shift women's mating psychology and increase their desire for new options in men. But, might ovulation also increase women's desire for new products? Four studies find that women select a greater number of unique options from consumer product sets at high fertility. This effect is especially strong for women in committed relationships. Additional findings show that the fertility shift in desire for variety in products is driven by the fertility shift in desire for new options in men activating a variety-seeking mindset. Subsequently, loyalty to a romantic partner, whether manipulated or measured, moderated the effect of fertility on consumer variety-seeking. This research contributes to the literature by revealing when, why, and how fertility influences desire for variety in consumer choice and highlights the mating motives that underlie this effect.

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"Nothing Good Ever Came from New Jersey": Expectations and the Sensory Perception of Wines

Robert Ashton
Journal of Wine Economics, December 2014, Pages 304-319

Abstract:
The influence of expectations on the sensory perception of wines is investigated in three studies in which New Jersey and California red wines are blind tasted. Studies 1 and 2, in which only the color of the wines is known prior to tasting, demonstrate that neither wine club members nor experienced wine professionals can distinguish between New Jersey and California wines in terms of personal enjoyment. In contrast, Study 3, in which tasters are informed that some (though not which) of the wines are from New Jersey, finds that when a wine is believed to be from New Jersey it receives lower enjoyment ratings than when the identical wine is believed to be from California - regardless of whether the wine is actually from New Jersey or California. The results enhance our understanding of the role of expectations in the interpretation of subjective experiences. Implications for wine producers and wine consumers are explored.

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The Unthinking or Confident Extremist? Political Extremists Are More Likely Than Moderates to Reject Experimenter-Generated Anchors

Mark Brandt, Anthony Evans & Jarret Crawford
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
People with extreme political opinions are alternatively characterized as being relatively unthinking or as confident consumers and practitioners of politics. In three studies, we tested these competing hypotheses using cognitive anchoring tasks (total N = 6,767). Using two different measures of political extremity, we found that extremists were less influenced than political moderates by two types of experimenter-generated anchors (Studies 1-3) and that this result was mediated by extremists' belief superiority (Study 2). Extremists and moderates, however, were not differentially influenced by self-generated anchors (Study 2), which suggests that extremists differentiated between externally and internally generated anchors. These results are consistent with the confident-extremist perspective and contradict the unthinking-extremist perspective. The present studies demonstrate the utility of adopting a basic cognitive task to investigate the relationship between ideology and cognitive style and suggest that extremity does not necessarily beget irrationality.

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The experience of freedom in decisions - Questioning philosophical beliefs in favor of psychological determinants

Stephan Lau, Anette Hiemisch & Roy Baumeister
Consciousness and Cognition, May 2015, Pages 30-46

Abstract:
Six experiments tested two competing models of subjective freedom during decision-making. The process model is mainly based on philosophical conceptions of free will and assumes that features of the process of choosing affect subjective feelings of freedom. In contrast, the outcome model predicts that subjective freedom is due to positive outcomes that can be expected or are achieved by a decision. Results heavily favored the outcome model over the process model. For example, participants felt freer when choosing between two equally good than two equally bad options. Process features including number of options, complexity of decision, uncertainty, having the option to defer the decision, conflict among reasons, and investing high effort in choosing generally had no or even negative effects on subjective freedom. In contrast, participants reported high freedom with good outcomes and low freedom with bad outcomes, and ease of deciding increased subjective freedom, consistent with the outcome model.

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I Follow My Heart and We Rely on Reasons: The Impact of Self-Construal on Reliance on Feelings Versus Reasons in Decision Making

Jiewen Hong & Hannah Chang
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Results from six experiments support the hypothesis that an accessible independent self-construal promotes a greater reliance on feelings in making judgments and decisions, whereas an accessible interdependent self-construal promotes a greater reliance on reasons. Specifically, compared to an interdependent self-construal, an independent self-construal increases the relative preference for affectively superior options as opposed to cognitively superior options (experiments 1A and 1B), and strengthens the effects of incidental mood on evaluations (experiment 2). Further, valuations of the decision outcome increase when independent (interdependent) consumers adopt a feeling-based (reason-based) decision strategy (experiment 3). Finally, these effects are moderated by decision focus (whether the decision is made for oneself or for others; experiment 4) and need for justification during decision making (experiment 5). Theoretical implications and managerial implications are discussed.

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The Budget Contraction Effect: How Contracting Budgets Lead to Less Varied Choice

Kurt Carlson et al.
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
How do consumers adjust their spending when their budget changes? A common view is that the allocation of one's current budget should not depend on past budget allocations. Contrary to this, we find that when one's budget contracts to a particular level, consumers select less variety (as measured by the number of different items with some of the budget allocated to them) than when their budget expands to that same level. This budget contraction effect stems from a reduction in variety under the contracting budget, not from variety expansion under the expanding budget. Evidence from our experiments indicate that the effect is driven by a desire to avoid feelings of loss associated with spreading allocation cuts (relative to reference quantities from prior allocations) across many items.

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Own-Nationality Bias: Evidence from UEFA Champions League Football Referees

Bryson Pope & Nolan Pope
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the existence and magnitude of own-nationality bias. Using player-match level data from 12 seasons of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) and referee assignment policies that pair players and referees from the same country, we determine the bias that referees exhibit toward players from their native country. Players officiated by a referee from the same country receive a 10% increase in beneficial foul calls. Referees' own-nationality bias is more pronounced for national team players, players at home, and in later stages of the tournament. Elite referees exhibit as much, or more, own-nationality bias as their less experienced counterparts.

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Crowdsourcing the Unknown: The Satellite Search for Genghis Khan

Albert Yu-Min Lin et al.
PLoS ONE, December 2014

Abstract:
Massively parallel collaboration and emergent knowledge generation is described through a large scale survey for archaeological anomalies within ultra-high resolution earth-sensing satellite imagery. Over 10K online volunteers contributed 30K hours (3.4 years), examined 6,000 km2, and generated 2.3 million feature categorizations. Motivated by the search for Genghis Khan's tomb, participants were tasked with finding an archaeological enigma that lacks any historical description of its potential visual appearance. Without a pre-existing reference for validation we turn towards consensus, defined by kernel density estimation, to pool human perception for "out of the ordinary" features across a vast landscape. This consensus served as the training mechanism within a self-evolving feedback loop between a participant and the crowd, essential driving a collective reasoning engine for anomaly detection. The resulting map led a National Geographic expedition to confirm 55 archaeological sites across a vast landscape. A increased ground-truthed accuracy was observed in those participants exposed to the peer feedback loop over those whom worked in isolation, suggesting collective reasoning can emerge within networked groups to outperform the aggregate independent ability of individuals to define the unknown.

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Sound credit scores and financial decisions despite cognitive aging

Ye Li et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 6 January 2015, Pages 65-69

Abstract:
Age-related deterioration in cognitive ability may compromise the ability of older adults to make major financial decisions. We explore whether knowledge and expertise accumulated from past decisions can offset cognitive decline to maintain decision quality over the life span. Using a unique dataset that combines measures of cognitive ability (fluid intelligence) and of general and domain-specific knowledge (crystallized intelligence), credit report data, and other measures of decision quality, we show that domain-specific knowledge and expertise provide an alternative route for sound financial decisions. That is, cognitive aging does not spell doom for financial decision-making in domains where the decision maker has developed expertise. These results have important implications for public policy and for the design of effective interventions and decision aids.

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Busy Brains, Boasters' Gains: Self-Promotion Effectiveness Depends on Audiences' Cognitive Resources

Alison Fragale & Adam Grant
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Impression management research suggests variability in the effectiveness of self-promotion: audiences grant self-promoters more status in some situations than others. We propose that self-promotion effectiveness depends on the audience's cognitive resources. When audiences are cognitively busy, they are more likely to misattribute the source of promoting information, and thus fail to penalize self-promoters for violating norms of politeness and modesty. Thus, self-promoters are perceived as more communal, and granted more status, when audiences are cognitively busy. These predictions were supported across two experiments, which varied the source of the promoting information about a target (self vs. other, Experiment 1), and the level of self-promotion (Experiment 2), and used different manipulations of cognitive busyness - divided mental attention (Experiment 1) and time pressure (Experiment 2). These studies provide insight into the conditions under which self-promotion is effective vs. ineffective, and contribute to our theoretical understanding of status judgments.

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The Making of Might-Have-Beens: Effects of Free Will Belief on Counterfactual Thinking

Jessica Alquist et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Counterfactual thoughts are based on the assumption that one situation could result in multiple possible outcomes. This assumption underlies most theories of free will and contradicts deterministic views that there is only one possible outcome of any situation. Three studies tested the hypothesis that stronger belief in free will would lead to more counterfactual thinking. Experimental manipulations (Studies 1-2) and a measure (Studies 3-4) of belief in free will were linked to increased counterfactual thinking in response to autobiographical (Studies 1, 3, and 4) and hypothetical (Study 2) events. Belief in free will also predicted the kind of counterfactuals generated. Belief in free will was associated with an increase in the generation of self and upward counterfactuals, which have been shown to be particularly useful for learning. These findings fit the view that belief in free will is promoted by societies because it facilitates learning and culturally valued change.

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Positive Consequences of Conflict on Decision Making: When a Conflict Mindset Facilitates Choice

Jennifer Savary et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Much research has shown that conflict is aversive and leads to increased choice deferral. In contrast, we have proposed that conflict can be beneficial. Specifically, exposure to nonconscious goal conflict can activate a mindset (a set of cognitive procedures) that facilitates the systematic processing of information without triggering the associated costs, such as negative affect and stress. In a conflict mindset, people should be better able to make tradeoffs and resolve choice conflict. We tested this proposition in 4 experiments, and demonstrated that priming conflicting goals before a decision increases choice in domains unrelated to the primed conflict. We further demonstrated that increased choice occurs because people in a conflict mindset process choice information more systematically, and we rule out several alternative explanations for the results.

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Waiting When Both Certainty and Magnitude Are Increasing: Certainty Overshadows Magnitude

Tara Webb & Michael Young
Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, forthcoming

Abstract:
In everyday decision making, people often face decisions with outcomes that differ on multiple dimensions. The trade-off in preferences between magnitude, temporal proximity, and probability of an outcome is a fundamental concern in the decision-making literature. Yet, their joint effects on behavior in an experience-based decision-making task are understudied. Two experiments examined the relative influences of the magnitude and probability of an outcome when both were increasing over a 10-second delay. A first-person shooter video game was adapted for this purpose. Experiment 1 showed that participants waited longer to ensure a higher probability of the outcome than to ensure a greater magnitude when experienced separately and together. Experiment 2 provided a precise method of comparing their relative control on waiting by having each increase at different rates. Both experiments revealed a stronger influence of increasing probability than increasing magnitude. The results were more consistent with hyperbolic discounting of probability than with cumulative prospect theory's decision weight function.

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Choosing between options associated with past and future regret

Yaniv Shani, Shai Danziger & Marcel Zeelenberg
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, January 2015, Pages 107-114

Abstract:
People sometimes choose between options associated with already-missed and to-be-missed counterfactuals, or put differently, between past and future regret. We find that these objectively irrelevant associations systematically sway peoples' choices. Results show participants prefer options associated with past promotions (Studies 1-3), and they experience more regret and feel more responsible for missing a future promotion (Studies 1 and 2). Study 2 also shows that participants' preference for products associated with a past miss decreases when they know they will not encounter the future miss (promotion). Study 3 shows this preference also decreases when the product is utilized before the future miss becomes available. Finally, in a non-promotion context, Study 4 demonstrates that people distance themselves from a future miss when they are responsible for the miss but not when another person is responsible for it. These findings are related to regret, inaction inertia and the psychology of discounts.

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How Multiple Anchors Affect Judgment: Evidence from the Lab and eBay

Yan Zhang, Ye Li & Ting Zhu
University of Chicago Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
The vast majority of anchoring research has found that judgments assimilate toward single anchors, but no papers have directly compared the impact of one anchor with that of multiple anchors. We hypothesized that the presence of additional anchors can reverse the usual anchoring effect. When one anchor is paired with a second, moderate anchor, people rely more on the additional anchor when the original anchor is extreme than when it is moderate. Extreme original anchors therefore generate less extreme estimates than moderate original anchors do in the two-anchor case - a reversed anchoring effect. Three controlled experiments verified that although estimates assimilated to single anchors, the reverse occurred when people were simultaneously given a second anchor: extremely low (high) anchors generated higher (lower) estimates than moderately low (high) anchors. A natural experiment using eBay auctions in the U.S. and China provided corroborating evidence. This research has implications for pricing strategies when there is more than one price cue available.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Money pit

Regulating Consumer Financial Products: Evidence from Credit Cards

Sumit Agarwal et al.
Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We analyze the effectiveness of consumer financial regulation by considering the 2009 Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act. We use a panel data set covering 160 million credit card accounts and a difference-in-differences research design that compares changes in outcomes over time for consumer credit cards, which were subject to the regulations, to changes for small business credit cards, which the law did not cover. We estimate that regulatory limits on credit card fees reduced overall borrowing costs by an annualized 1.6% of average daily balances, with a decline of more than 5.3% for consumers with FICO scores below 660. We find no evidence of an offsetting increase in interest charges or a reduction in the volume of credit. Taken together, we estimate that the CARD Act saved consumers $11.9 billion per year. We also analyze a nudge that disclosed the interest savings from paying off balances in 36 months rather than making minimum payments. We detect a small increase in the share of accounts making the 36-month payment value but no evidence of a change in overall payments.

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Race, Ethnicity and High-Cost Mortgage Lending

Patrick Bayer, Fernando Ferreira & Stephen Ross
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
This paper examines how high cost mortgage lending varies by race and ethnicity. It uses a unique panel data that matches a representative sample of mortgages in seven large metropolitan markets between 2004 and 2008 to public records of housing transactions and proprietary credit reporting data. The results reveal a significantly higher incidence of high costs loans for African-American and Hispanic borrowers even after controlling for key mortgage risk factors: they have a 7.7 and 6.2 percentage point higher likelihood of a high cost loan, respectively, in the home purchase market relative to an overall incidence of 14.8 percent among all home purchase mortgages. Significant racial and ethnic differences are widespread throughout the market - they are present (i) in each metro area, (ii) across high and low risk borrowers, and (iii) regardless of the age of the borrower. These differences are reduced by 60 percent with the inclusion of lender fixed effects, implying that a significant portion of the estimated market-wide racial differences can be attributed to differential access to (or sorting across) mortgage lenders.

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Political capital and moral hazard

Leonard Kostovetsky & William Simon
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines how political connections affect risk exposure of financial institutions. Using a geography-based measure, I find that politically connected firms have higher leverage and their stocks have higher volatility and beta. Furthermore, prior to the 2008 financial crisis, politically-connected financial firms had higher leverage and were more likely to increase their leverage during the housing bubble in response to local growth in median housing prices. During the crisis, higher leverage was associated with worse performance but being in a state with a US Senator on the Banking Committee was correlated with weakly improved stock returns and reduced bankruptcy probability, highlighting the value of political connections for financial firms.

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Has the Fed Improved U.S. Economic Performance?

Thomas Hogan
Journal of Macroeconomics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper finds that U.S. economic performance has not generally improved under the Federal Reserve, with the possible exception of the Great Moderation. We analyze the Fed and pre-Fed periods in terms of the rates and volatilities of inflation and real GDP growth. Comparing the pre-Fed periods to the post-World War II period and the Great Moderation, we find that real GDP growth has been lower under the Fed, while inflation has been higher. The volatilities of inflation and GDP growth have both declined under the Fed, but the reductions occurred mostly during the Great Moderation.

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House Prices, Local Demand, and Retail Prices

Johannes Stroebel & Joseph Vavra
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
We use detailed micro data to document a causal response of local retail prices to changes in house prices, with elasticities of 15%-20% across housing booms and busts. We provide evidence that our results are driven by changes in markups rather than by changes in local costs. We argue that this markup variation arises when increases in housing wealth reduce households' demand elasticity, and firms raise markups in response. Consistent with this wealth channel, price effects are larger in zip codes with many homeowners, and non-existent in zip codes with mostly renters. In addition, shopping data confirms that house price changes have opposite effects on the price sensitivity of homeowners and renters. Our evidence has implications for monetary, labor and urban economics, and suggests a new source of markup variation in business cycle models.

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The Industrial Organization of the US Residential Mortgage Market

Richard Stanton, Johan Walden & Nancy Wallace
Annual Review of Financial Economics, 2014, Pages 259-288

Abstract:
We show that the US residential single-family mortgage-origination market is highly concentrated once account is taken of the contractual coordination that arises from the correspondent- and warehouse-funding channels. We represent these channels as a network, using the flow of loans through three strata of the loan origination market: origination, aggregation, and securitization. We develop a network representation of the origination market and demonstrate that it is a small world, in that most nodes are close in the network. We then rank-order the interlinked aggregators and securitizers using ex post mortgage foreclosure rates as a proxy for performance. Our findings suggest that these significant interlinkages in the mortgage-origination network represent a previously underappreciated source of systemic risk. Many apparently atomistic mortgage underwriters are, in fact, coordinated to act in parallel because of their funding relationships with the large, too-big-to-fail bank holding companies.

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Size Anomalies in U.S. Bank Stock Returns

Priyank Gandhi & Hanno Lustig
Journal of Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
The largest commercial bank stocks, ranked by total size of the balance sheet, have significantly lower risk-adjusted returns than small- and medium-sized bank stocks, even though large banks are significantly more levered. We uncover a size factor in the component of bank returns that is orthogonal to the standard risk factors, including small-minus-big, which has the right covariance with bank returns to explain the average risk-adjusted returns. This factor measures size-dependent exposure to bank-specific tail risk. These findings are consistent with government guarantees that protect shareholders of large banks, but not small banks, in disaster states.

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Do Credit Market Shocks affect the Real Economy? Quasi-Experimental Evidence from the Great Recession and 'Normal' Economic Times

Michael Greenstone, Alexandre Mas & Hoai-Luu Nguyen
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
We estimate the effect of the reduction in credit supply that followed the 2008 financial crisis on the real economy. We predict county lending shocks using variation in pre-crisis bank market shares and estimated bank supply-shifts. Counties with negative predicted shocks experienced declines in small business loan originations, indicating that it is costly for these businesses to find new lenders. Using confidential microdata from the Longitudinal Business Database, we find that the 2007-2009 lending shocks accounted for statistically significant, but economically small, declines in both small firm and overall employment. Predicted lending shocks affected lending but not employment from 1997-2007.

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The Domestic and International Effects of Interstate U.S. Banking

Matteo Cacciatore, Fabio Ghironi & Viktors Stebunovs
Journal of International Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper studies the domestic and international effects of national bank market integration in a two-country, dynamic, stochastic, general equilibrium model with endogenous producer entry. Integration of banking across localities reduces the degree of local monopoly power of financial intermediaries. The economy that implements this form of deregulation experiences increased producer entry, real exchange rate appreciation, and a current account deficit. The foreign economy experiences a long-run increase in GDP and consumption. Less monopoly power in financial intermediation results in less volatile business creation, reduced markup countercyclicality, and weaker substitution effects in labor supply in response to productivity shocks. Bank market integration thus contributes to moderation of firm-level and aggregate output volatility. In turn, trade and financial ties allow also the foreign economy to enjoy lower GDP volatility in most scenarios we consider. These results are consistent with features of U.S. and international fluctuations after the United States began its transition to interstate banking in the late 1970s.

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Effects of Monitoring on Mortgage Delinquency: Evidence From a Randomized Field Study

Stephanie Moulton et al.
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Winter 2015, Pages 184-207

Abstract:
In the wake of the housing crisis in 2008, U.S. policymakers have developed a range of policy proposals to address the risk of mortgage borrowers going into payment default. Some of these proposed regulations would effectively eliminate certain loans with riskier borrower characteristics from the market. Such prescriptive approaches fail to recognize alternatives that permit riskier loans to be made, but require postorigination practices designed to offset elevated default risk by improving the capability of individual borrowers to make timely payments. This study provides evidence of one such approach. Through a randomized field experiment, we test the impact of goal setting and external monitoring on mortgage delinquency. First-time homebuyers who completed a financial planning module and received quarterly contact from a financial coach are less likely to become delinquent or default on their mortgages. These results suggest that relatively low cost procedures embedded into loan servicing may increase adherence to timely repayments, thereby reducing the probability of delinquency while still permitting riskier borrowers to participate in credit markets.

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Competition and Bank Opacity

Liangliang Jiang, Ross Levine & Chen Lin
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
Did regulatory reforms that lowered barriers to competition among U.S. banks increase or decrease the quality of information that banks disclose to the public and regulators? We find that an intensification of competition reduced abnormal accruals of loan loss provisions and the frequency with which banks restate financial statements. The results indicate that competition reduces bank opacity, enhancing the ability of markets and regulators to monitor banks.

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Do Fringe Banks Create Fringe Neighborhoods? Examining the Spatial Relationship between Fringe Banking and Neighborhood Crime Rates

Charis Kubrin & John Hipp
Justice Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the aftermath of one of the worst recessions in US history, high unemployment has placed millions of Americans in precarious financial positions. More than ever, Americans are opting out of traditional financial services, relying instead on "fringe lenders" such as check cashers, payday lenders, and pawnshops to manage their finances. Given their tremendous growth and the concern that consumers who are least able to pay for high-cost, high-risk financial products are most likely to use them, fringe lenders have been the subject of controversy and the focus of much research. Largely unknown, however, are the effects of fringe lenders on the communities where they are located. Given their spatial concentration in low-income neighborhoods with greater concentrations of racial and ethnic minorities - areas with typically more crime - of concern is whether fringe lenders themselves are criminogenic. We consider this by examining the impact of several types of fringe lenders on neighborhood crime rates in Los Angeles. Our findings reveal that the presence of fringe banks on a block is related to higher crime levels, even after controlling for a range of factors known to be associated with crime rates. The presence of a fringe bank also impacts crime, particularly robbery, on adjacent blocks. Whereas we find that pawnshops have little impact on crime levels, payday lenders and check cashers have a much stronger impact. Finally, we discover there are moderating effects, as the fringe lender-crime relationship is considerably reduced if the lender is located in a higher population density area.

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Access to Refinancing and Mortgage Interest Rates: HARPing on the Importance of Competition

Gene Amromin & Caitlin Kearns
Federal Reserve Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
We explore a policy-induced change in borrower ability to shop for mortgages to investigate whether market competitiveness affects mortgage interest rates. Our paper exploits a discontinuity in the competitive landscape introduced by the Home Affordable Refinancing Program (HARP). Under HARP, lenders that currently service loans eligible for refinancing enjoyed substantial advantages over their potential competitors. Using a fuzzy regression discontinuity design, we show a jump in mortgage interest rates precisely at the HARP eligibility threshold. Our results suggest that limiting competition raised interest rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages by 15 to 20 basis points, translating into higher lender profits. The results are distinct from documented effects of consolidation and capacity reduction in mortgage lending and are robust to a number of sample restrictions and estimation choices. We interpret our findings as evidence that increases in pricing power lead to higher interest rates in mortgage markets.

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Bankruptcy Exemption, Home Equity and Mortgage Credit

Qianqian Cao
Real Estate Economics, Winter 2014, Pages 938-976

Abstract:
This article examines the impact of state bankruptcy homestead exemptions on mortgage application outcomes. The empirical analysis controls for endogeneity problems by focusing on 55 urban areas that cross state borders using the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act files from 2001 to 2008. The results indicate that holding the loan-to-value ratio constant, a more generous homestead exemption encourages borrowers to buy more housing and take out larger mortgages. However, holding house value constant, a more generous homestead exemption discourages mortgage borrowing and results in more home equity. Moreover, benefits of the homestead exemption outweigh the costs of it to mortgage lenders.

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Does the Geographic Expansion of Bank Assets Reduce Risk?

Martin Goetz, Luc Laeven & Ross Levine
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
We develop a new identification strategy to evaluate the impact of the geographic expansion of bank holding company (BHC) assets across U.S. metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) on BHC risk. We find that the geographic expansion of bank assets reduces risk. Moreover, geographic expansion reduces risk more when BHCs expand into economically dissimilar MSAs, i.e., MSAs with different industrial structures and business cycles. We do not find that geographic diversification improves loan quality. Our results are consistent with arguments that geographic expansion lowers risk by reducing exposure to idiosyncratic local risks and inconsistent with arguments that geographic expansion, on net, increases risk by reducing the ability of BHCs to monitor loans and manage risks.

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Incentivizing Calculated Risk-Taking: Evidence from an Experiment with Commercial Bank Loan Officers

Shawn Cole, Martin Kanz & Leora Klapper
Journal of Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
We conduct an experiment with commercial bank loan officers to test how performance compensation affects risk assessment and lending. High-powered incentives lead to greater screening effort and more profitable lending decisions. This effect is muted, however, by deferred compensation and limited liability, two standard features of loan officer compensation contracts. We find that career concerns and personality traits affect loan officer behavior, but show that the response to incentives does not vary with traits such as risk-aversion, optimism, or overconfidence. Finally, we present evidence that incentives distort the assessment of credit risk, even among professionals with many years of experience.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Weight of history

Cohort of birth modifies the association between FTO genotype and BMI

James Niels Rosenquist et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
A substantial body of research has explored the relative roles of genetic and environmental factors on phenotype expression in humans. Recent research has also sought to identify gene–environment (or g-by-e) interactions, with mixed success. One potential reason for these mixed results may relate to the fact that genetic effects might be modified by changes in the environment over time. For example, the noted rise of obesity in the United States in the latter part of the 20th century might reflect an interaction between genetic variation and changing environmental conditions that together affect the penetrance of genetic influences. To evaluate this hypothesis, we use longitudinal data from the Framingham Heart Study collected over 30 y from a geographically relatively localized sample to test whether the well-documented association between the rs993609 variant of the FTO (fat mass and obesity associated) gene and body mass index (BMI) varies across birth cohorts, time period, and the lifecycle. Such cohort and period effects integrate many potential environmental factors, and this gene-by-environment analysis examines interactions with both time-varying contemporaneous and historical environmental influences. Using constrained linear age–period–cohort models that include family controls, we find that there is a robust relationship between birth cohort and the genotype–phenotype correlation between the FTO risk allele and BMI, with an observed inflection point for those born after 1942. These results suggest genetic influences on complex traits like obesity can vary over time, presumably because of global environmental changes that modify allelic penetrance.

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Human embryos from overweight and obese women display phenotypic and metabolic abnormalities

Christine Leary, Henry Leese & Roger Sturmey
Human Reproduction, January 2015, Pages 122-132

Study question: Is the developmental timing and metabolic regulation disrupted in embryos from overweight or obese women?

Study design, size, duration: We have performed a retrospective, observational analysis of oocyte size and the subsequent developmental kinetics of 218 oocytes from 29 consecutive women attending for ICSI treatment and have related time to reach key developmental stages to maternal bodyweight. In addition, we have measured non-invasively the metabolic activity of 150 IVF/ICSI embryos from a further 29 consecutive women who donated their surplus embryos to research, and have related the data retrospectively to their body mass index (BMI).

Participants/materials, setting, methods: In a clinical IVF setting, we compared oocyte morphology and developmental kinetics of supernumerary embryos collected from overweight and obese women, with a BMI in excess of 25 kg/m2 to those from women of healthy weight. A Primovision Time-Lapse system was used to measure developmental kinetics and the non-invasive COnsumption/RElese of glucose, pyruvate, amino acids and lactate were measured on spent droplets of culture medium. Total triglyceride levels within individual embryos were also determined.

Main results and the role of chance: Human oocytes from women presenting for fertility treatment with a BMI exceeding 25 kg/m2 are smaller (R2 = −0.45; P = 0.001) and therefore less likely to complete development post-fertilization (P < 0.001). Those embryos that do develop reach the morula stage faster than embryos from women of a BMI < 25 kg/m2 (<0.001) and the resulting blastocysts contain fewer cells notably in the trophectoderm (P = 0.01). The resulting blastocysts also have reduced glucose consumption (R2 = −0.61; P = 0.001), modified amino acid metabolism and increased levels of endogenous triglyceride (t = 4.11, P < 0.001). Our data further indicate that these differences are independent of male BMI.

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Associations between socioeconomic status and obesity in diverse, young adolescents: Variation across race/ethnicity and gender

Chris Fradkin et al.
Health Psychology, January 2015, Pages 1-9

Objective: This study examined the association between socioeconomic status (SES) and obesity risk during early adolescence, ages 10–13 years, and whether this association is present in different racial/ethnic and gender groups during 2 time points in early adolescence.

Method: Data were from the Healthy Passages study, which enrolled 4,824 African American, Hispanic, and White 5th graders (ages 10–11) in a population-based, longitudinal study conducted in 3 U.S. metropolitan areas, and assessed them again 2 years later. Weight status was classified from measured body mass index using standard criteria into nonobese and obese (27% in 5th grade). SES was indexed based on highest education attainment in the household.

Results: Youth in the highest SES had a significantly lower prevalence of obesity than those of lower SES at both 5th and 7th grades when disregarding race/ethnicity. Within-racial/ethnic group analyses mostly confirmed this pattern for Hispanic and White youth, but not for African American youth. When also considering gender, the SES differential in obesity risk was more pronounced among White girls and 5th-grade Hispanic boys.

Conclusion: Growing up in a high SES home, marked by having a member with at least a college degree, is associated with lower risk for obesity among Hispanic and White youth. For African American youth, there appears to be no association between SES and obesity. Thus the health advantage generally attributed to higher SES does not appear consistently across racial/ethnic groups for obesity in youth. Further research should identify influences on weight status beyond SES, especially among African American youth.

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Fast Food Consumption and Academic Growth in Late Childhood

Kelly Purtell & Elizabeth Gershoff
Clinical Pediatrics, forthcoming

Objective: The objective of this study is to examine the associations between fast food consumption and the academic growth of 8544 fifth-grade children in reading, math, and science.

Method: This study uses direct assessments of academic achievement and child-reported fast food consumption from a nationally representative sample of kindergartners followed through eighth grade.

Results: More than two thirds of the sample reported some fast food consumption; 20% reported consuming at least 4 fast food meals in the prior week. Fast food consumption during fifth grade predicted lower levels of academic achievement in all 3 subjects in eighth grade, even when fifth grade academic scores and numerous potential confounding variables, including socioeconomic indicators, physical activity, and TV watching, were controlled for in the models.

Conclusion: These results provide initial evidence that high levels of fast food consumption are predictive of slower growth in academic skills in a nationally representative sample of children.

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Is plate clearing a risk factor for obesity? A cross-sectional study of self-reported data in US adults

Eric Robinson, Paul Aveyard & Susan Jebb
Obesity, forthcoming

Objectives: Identifying eating behaviors which contribute to excess weight gain will inform obesity prevention strategies. A tendency to clear one's plate when eating may be a risk factor for obesity in an environment where food is plentiful. Whether plate clearing is associated with increased body weight in a cohort of US participants was examined.

Methods: Nine hundred and ninety-three US adults (60% male, 80% American European, mean age = 31 years) completed self-report measures of habitual plate clearing together with behavioral and demographic characteristics known to be associated with obesity.

Results: Plate clearing tendencies were positively associated with BMI and remained so after accounting for a large number of other demographic and behavioral predictors of BMI in analyses (β = 0.18, 95% CIs = 0.07, 0.29, P < 0.001); an increased tendency to plate clear was associated with a significantly higher body weight.

Conclusions: The tendency to clear one's plate when eating is associated with increased body weight and may constitute a risk factor for weight gain.

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Effects of subtle and explicit health messages on food choice

Heather Scherschel Wagner, Maryhope Howland & Traci Mann
Health Psychology, January 2015, Pages 79-82

Objective: Explicitly — as opposed to subtly — labeling a food healthy may inadvertently license people to indulge, imply that the food tastes bad, or lead to reactance. We investigated the effects of explicit and subtle health messages on individuals’ food selection in two field studies.

Method: We manipulated the signs on healthy foods such that they explicitly stated that the food was healthy, subtly suggested it with an image, or did not mention health. As participants — attendees at academic conferences — approached registration tables, research assistants recorded the number and type of snacks individuals chose.

Results: Participants were more likely to choose the healthy food when it was labeled with the subtle health message than when it was labeled with the explicit health message, which itself was not more effective than the control message.

Conclusion: Subtle messages may be more useful than explicit health messages in encouraging individuals to make a healthy snack choice.

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Unemployment and Health Behaviors Over the Business Cycle: A Longitudinal View

Gregory Colman & Dhaval Dave
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
We examine the first-order internal effects of unemployment on a range of health behaviors during the most recent recession using longitudinal data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79). Consistent with prior studies based on cross-sectional data, we find that becoming unemployed is associated with a small increase in leisure-time exercise and in body weight, a moderate decrease in smoking, and a substantial decline in total physical activity. We also find that unemployment is associated with a decline in purchases of fast food. Together, these results imply that both energy consumption and expenditure decline in the U.S. during recessions, the net result being a slight increase in body weight. There is generally considerable heterogeneity in these effects across specific health behaviors, across the intensive and extensive margins, across the outcome distribution, and across gender.

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The effects of old and new media on children’s weight

Agne Suziedelyte
Applied Economics, Winter 2015, Pages 1008-1018

Abstract:
Childhood obesity rates have recently been rising in many countries. It has been suggested in the literature that changes in children’s media exposure may contribute to explaining this trend. I investigate whether or not this hypothesis is supported by data. I contribute to the literature by focusing not only on television but also on new media – computers and video games. The Child Development Supplement to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics is used for the analysis. To address the endogeneity of children’s media exposure, I use dynamic and panel data models. This is another improvement upon the existing literature. Additionally, an extensive list of control variables is included in the regressions. I find that video game playing or computer use has no effect on children’s body weight. On the other hand, television viewing may increase children’s body weight slightly.

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Spatial-Temporal Modeling of Neighborhood Sociodemographic Characteristics and Food Stores

Archana Lamichhane et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The literature on food stores, neighborhood poverty, and race/ethnicity is mixed and lacks methods of accounting for complex spatial and temporal clustering of food resources. We used quarterly data on supermarket and convenience store locations from Nielsen TDLinx (Nielsen Holdings N.V., New York, New York) spanning 7 years (2006–2012) and census tract–based neighborhood sociodemographic data from the American Community Survey (2006–2010) to assess associations between neighborhood sociodemographic characteristics and food store distributions in the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) of 4 US cities (Birmingham, Alabama; Chicago, Illinois; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and San Francisco, California). We fitted a space-time Poisson regression model that accounted for the complex spatial-temporal correlation structure of store locations by introducing space-time random effects in an intrinsic conditionally autoregressive model within a Bayesian framework. After accounting for census tract–level area, population, their interaction, and spatial and temporal variability, census tract poverty was significantly and positively associated with increasing expected numbers of supermarkets among tracts in all 4 MSAs. A similar positive association was observed for convenience stores in Birmingham, Minneapolis, and San Francisco; in Chicago, a positive association was observed only for predominantly white and predominantly black tracts. Our findings suggest a positive association between greater numbers of food stores and higher neighborhood poverty, with implications for policy approaches related to food store access by neighborhood poverty.

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Perceived stress and freshman weight change: The moderating role of baseline body mass index

Jessica Boyce & Roeline Kuijer
Physiology & Behavior, February 2015, Pages 491–496

Abstract:
The transition from high-school to university is a critical period of weight change. Popular media suggest that freshman students gain 15 lb (6.80 kg) of body weight during their first year at university (i.e., the freshman 15). In contrast, a recent meta-analysis calculated freshman weight gain to be 1.75 kg, with statistics suggesting that only a proportion of freshman students are prone to gain weight. Researchers are beginning to investigate how certain variables and interactions between such variables predict freshman weight status. The current study focused on body mass index (BMI) and psychological stress. In isolation, previous research has tested how these two variables predict freshman student's weight status. However, because BMI and stress interact to predict weight gain and weight loss in adult samples, the current study tested the interaction between student's baseline BMI and baseline stress levels to predict weight change in a New Zealand sample of freshman students (N = 65). Participants completed two separate online surveys in March and October 2012 (i.e., New Zealand's academic year). Although only three students gained over 6.80 kg (i.e., the freshman 15), participants did gain a statistically significant 1.10 kg of body weight during the year. Consistent with previous research, students with a higher baseline BMI gained a higher amount of body weight. However, this main effect was qualified by an interaction between stress and BMI. Students who entered university with high levels of stress gained weight if they also had high BMIs; if they had lower BMIs then they lost weight. In order to reduce unhealthy levels of freshman weight change, vulnerable students need to be taught stress-reduction techniques and coping strategies early in the academic year.

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The weight of stigma: Cortisol reactivity to manipulated weight stigma

Mary Himmelstein, Angela Incollingo Belsky & Janet Tomiyama
Obesity, forthcoming

Objective: Rates of weight-based stigmatization have steadily increased over the past decade. The psychological and physiological consequences of weight stigma remain understudied.

Methods: This study examined the effects of experimentally manipulated weight stigma on the stress-responsive hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPA) in 110 female undergraduate participants (BMI: M = 19.30, SD = 1.55). Objective BMI and self-perceived body weight were examined as moderators of the relationship between stigma and HPA reactivity.

Results: Results indicated participants' perceptions of their own body weight (but not objective BMI) moderated the effect of weight stigma on cortisol reactivity: F(1,102) = 13.48, P < 0.001, η2p = 0.12 (interaction 95% CI range [−2.06 to −1.44, −1.31 to −0.99]). Specifically, participants who perceived themselves as heavy exhibited sustained cortisol elevation post-manipulation compared with individuals who did not experience the weight-related stigma. Cortisol change did not vary by condition for participants who perceived themselves as average weight.

Conclusions: In the first study to examine physiological consequences of active interpersonal exposure to weight stigma, experiencing weight stigma was stressful for participants who perceived themselves as heavy, regardless of their BMI. These results are important because stress and cortisol are linked to deleterious health outcomes, stimulate eating, and contribute to abdominal adiposity.

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Slave to habit? Obesity is associated with decreased behavioural sensitivity to reward devaluation

Annette Horstmann et al.
Appetite, forthcoming

Abstract:
The motivational value of food is lower during satiety compared to fasting. Dynamic changes in motivational value promote food seeking or meal cessation. In obesity this mechanism might be compromised since obese subjects ingest energy beyond homeostatic needs. Thus, lower adaptation of eating behaviour with respect to changes in motivational value might cause food overconsumption in obesity. To test this hypothesis, we implemented a selective satiation procedure to investigate the relationship between obesity and the size of the behavioural devaluation effect in humans. Lean to obese men (mean age 25.9, range 19-30 years; mean BMI 29.1, range 19.2-45.1 kg/m2) were trained on a free operant paradigm and learned to associate cues with the possibility to win different food rewards by pressing a button. After the initial training phase, one of the rewards was devalued by consumption. Response rates for and wanting of the different rewards were measured pre and post devaluation. Behavioural sensitivity to reward devaluation, measured as the magnitude of difference between pre and post responses, was regressed against BMI. Results indicate that (1) higher BMI compared to lower BMI in men led to an attenuated behavioural adjustment to reward devaluation, and (2) the decrease in motivational value was associated with the decrease in response rate between pre and post. Change in explicitly reported motivational value, however, was not affected by BMI. Thus, we conclude that high BMI in men is associated with lower behavioural adaptation with respect to changes in motivational value of food, possibly resulting in automatic overeating patterns that are hard to control in daily life.

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Increased brain response to appetitive tastes in the insula and amygdala in obese compared to healthy weight children when sated

Kerri Boutelle et al.
International Journal of Obesity, forthcoming

Objective: There is evidence of altered neural taste response in female adolescents who are obese, and in adolescents who are at risk for obesity. To further understand risk factors for the development of overeating and obesity, we investigated response to tastes of sucrose and water in 23 obese and healthy weight children.

Methods and design: Thirteen healthy weight (HW) and 10 obese (OB) 8-12 year old children underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while tasting sucrose and water. Additionally, children completed an eating in the absence of hunger paradigm and a sucrose liking task.

Results: A region of interest analysis revealed an elevated BOLD response to taste (sucrose and water) within the bilateral insula and amygdala in OB children relative to HW children. Whole brain analyses revealed a group by condition interaction within the paracingulate, medial frontal, middle frontal gyri, and right amygdala: post hoc analyses suggested an increased response to sucrose for OB relative to HW children, whereas HW children responded more strongly to water relative to sucrose. In addition, OB children, relative to HW, tended to recruit the right putamen as well as medial and lateral frontal and temporal regions bilaterally.

Conclusion: This study showed increased reactivity in the amygdala and insula in the OB compared to HW children, but no functional differentiation in the striatum, despite differences in the striatum previously seen in older samples. These findings support the concept of the association between increased neural processing of food reward in the development of obesity, and raise the possibility that emotional and interoceptive sensitivity could be an early vulnerability in obesity.

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Weight training, aerobic physical activities, and long-term waist circumference change in men

Rania Mekary et al.
Obesity, forthcoming

Objective: Findings on weight training and waist circumference (WC) change are controversial. This study examined prospectively whether weight training, moderate to vigorous aerobic activity (MVAA), and replacement of one activity for another were associated with favorable changes in WC and body weight (BW).

Methods: Physical activity, WC, and BW were reported in 1996 and 2008 in a cohort of 10,500 healthy U.S. men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Multiple linear regression models (partition/substitution) to assess these associations were used.

Results: After adjusting for potential confounders, a significant inverse dose-response relationship between weight training and WC change (P-trend <0.001) was observed. Less age-associated WC increase was seen with a 20-min/day activity increase; this benefit was significantly stronger for weight training (−0.67 cm, 95% CI −0.93, −0.41) than for MVAA (−0.33 cm, 95% CI −0.40, −0.27), other activities (−0.16 cm, 95% CI −0.28, −0.03), or TV watching (0.08 cm, 95% CI 0.05, 0.12). Substituting 20 min/day of weight training for any other discretionary activity had the strongest inverse association with WC change. MVAA had the strongest inverse association with BW change (−0.23 kg, 95% CI −0.29, −0.17).

Conclusions: Among various activities, weight training had the strongest association with less WC increase. Studies on frequency/volume of weight training and WC change are warranted.

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Black and White Body Mass Index Values in Developing Nineteenth Century Nebraska

Scott Alan Carson
Journal of Biosocial Science, January 2015, Pages 105-119

Abstract:
Little is known about late 19th and early 20th century BMIs on the US Central Plains. Using data from the Nebraska state prison, this study demonstrates that the BMIs of dark complexioned blacks were greater than for fairer complexioned mulattos and whites. Although modern BMIs have increased, late 19th and early 20th century BMIs in Nebraska were in normal ranges; neither underweight nor obese individuals were common. Farmer BMIs were consistently greater than those of non-farmers, and farm labourer BMIs were greater than those of common labourers. The BMIs of individuals born in Plains states were greater than for other nativities, indicating that rural lifestyles were associated with better net current biological living conditions.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, January 5, 2015

January effect

How the SEC Helps Speedy Traders

Robert Jackson & Joshua Mitts
Columbia University Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
We show that the Securities and Exchange Commission’s system for disseminating market-moving information in securities filings gives some investors an advantage over others. We describe two systems — the SEC’s file transfer protocol (FTP) server and public dissemination service (PDS) — that give certain investors access to securities filings before the general public. While contemporaneous work on this issue is limited to insider filings, we show that both the FTP and PDS gaps are pervasive across all types of filings, including Form 8-K, which includes market-moving information such as corporate earnings. We show that FTP access gives investors a mean (median) 85 (11)-second lead time, and PDS gives investors a mean (median) 77 (10)-second lead time, before the filing is available on the SEC’s website. We also provide evidence suggesting that investors had the opportunity to take advantage of this lead time to earn trading profits. In particular, we show that traders could earn economically and statistically significant returns by trading on either the FTP or PDS gaps. Moreover, even investors who waited as long as ninety seconds to execute trades on the FTP or PDS gaps could earn meaningful returns using this strategy. We also identify abnormal trading volume in the moments after PDS subscribers receive SEC filings. Finally, our direct access to both FTP and PDS also allow us to document the changes to those systems that the SEC implemented after the public revelation of this issue in October 2014. We show that the SEC imposed a significant delay on the PDS service after the existence of the informational advantage was revealed. We also, however, show that, as of November 2014, PDS subscribers still receive some 37% of filings before the general public. We argue that lawmakers should consider reforms that would help the SEC develop a centralized information-dissemination system that is better suited for the high-speed dynamics of modern markets.

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Run EDGAR Run: SEC Dissemination in a High-Frequency World

Jonathan Rogers, Douglas Skinner & Sarah Zechman
University of Chicago Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
We use a large recent sample of Form 4 insider trading filings to provide evidence on the process through which SEC filings are disseminated via EDGAR. We find that while the delay from a filing’s acceptance by EDGAR to its initial public availability on the SEC website is relatively short, with a mean (median) posting time of 40 (36) seconds, in the majority of cases the filing is available to Tier 1 subscribers before its availability on the public SEC site. We further show that prices, volumes, and spreads respond to the filing news beginning around 30 seconds before public posting, consistent with some market participants taking advantage of the posting delay. These results raise questions about whether the SEC dissemination process is really a level playing field for all investors.

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The Freedom of Information Act and the Race Towards Information Acquisition

Antonio Gargano, Alberto Rossi & Russ Wermers
University of Maryland Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
We document a previously unknown source of information exploited by sophisticated institutional investors: the Freedom of Information Act, a law that allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the United States government. Through our own FOIA requests we uncover the identities of several large institutional investors, chiefly hedge funds, that routinely request value-relevant information to the Food and Drug Administration. We first provide a detailed analysis of how FOIA requests are generated, the kind of information commonly requested by institutional investors and its costs. We then document that the target of FOIA requests are large firms that experience periods of low profitability and high stock price volatility. Finally, we show that FOIA requests allow institutional investors to generate abnormal portfolio returns and provide evidence suggesting that the FOIA information is not systematically known to other investors in the marketplace.

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Reuters Sentiment and Stock Returns

Matthias Uhl
Journal of Behavioral Finance, Fall 2014, Pages 287-298

Abstract:
Sentiment from more than 3.6 million Reuters news articles is tested in a vector autoregression model framework on its ability to forecast returns of the Dow Jones Industrial Average stock index. We show that Reuters sentiment can explain and predict changes in stock returns better than macroeconomic factors. We further find that negative Reuters sentiment has more predictive power than positive Reuters sentiment. Trading strategies with Reuters sentiment achieve significant outperformance with high success rates as well as high Sharpe ratios.

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The JOBS act and IPO volume: Evidence that disclosure costs affect the IPO decision

Michael Dambra, Laura Casares Field & Matthew Gustafson
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In April 2012, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) was enacted to help revitalize the initial public offering (IPO) market, especially for small firms. During the year ending March 2014, IPO volume and the proportion of small firm issuers was the largest since 2000. Controlling for market conditions, we estimate that the JOBS Act has led to 21 additional IPOs annually, a 25% increase over pre-JOBS levels. Firms with high proprietary disclosure costs, such as biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms, increase IPO activity the most. These firms are also more likely to take advantage of the act's de-risking provisions, allowing firms to file the IPO confidentially while testing-the-waters.

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Frame Complexity and the Financial Crisis: A Comparison of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany in the Period 2007–2012

Jan Kleinnijenhuis, Friederike Schultz & Dirk Oegema
Journal of Communication, forthcoming

Abstract:
Communicative complexity concerns the variety of issues and stakeholders (agenda complexity) and their associations (frame complexity) in the news. One issue may dominate news in crises (9/11, Katrina), but as soon as complexity recovers, uncertainty may decrease and the public mood may improve. The financial crisis in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany (2007–2012) offers an example. An automated content analysis was applied to over 160,000 newspaper articles. Frame complexity decreased until the spotlight fell on the demise of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers (2008). The subsequent gradual recovery was only partly interrupted by the euro crisis. A Vector AutoRegression time series analysis shows that increasing frame complexity may indeed have fostered the recovery of financial markets and consumer confidence.

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Structured debt ratings: Evidence on conflicts of interest

Matthias Efing & Harald Hau
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We test if issuers of asset- and mortgage-backed securities receive rating favors from agencies with which they maintain strong business relationships. Controlling for issuer fixed effects and a large set of credit risk determinants, we show that agencies publish better ratings for those issuers that provide them with more bilateral securitization business. Such rating favors are larger for very complex structured debt deals and for deals issued during the credit boom period. Our analysis is based on a new deal-level rating statistic that accounts for the full distribution of tranche ratings below the AAA cut-off point of a structured debt deal.

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The Invisible Hand of Short Selling: Does Short Selling Discipline Earnings Management?

Massimo Massa, Bohui Zhang & Hong Zhang
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
We hypothesize that short selling has a disciplining role vis-à-vis firm managers that forces them to reduce earnings management. Using firm-level short-selling data for thirty-three countries collected over a sample period from 2002 to 2009, we document a significantly negative relationship between the threat of short selling and earnings management. Tests based on instrumental variable and exogenous regulatory experiments offer evidence of a causal link between short selling and earnings management. Our findings suggest that short selling functions as an external governance mechanism to discipline managers.

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Momentum Trading, Return Chasing, and Predictable Crashes

Benjamin Chabot, Eric Ghysels & Ravi Jagannathan
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
We combine self-collected historical data from 1867 to 1907 with CRSP data from 1926 to 2012, to examine the risk and return over the past 140 years of one of the most popular mechanical trading strategies — momentum. We find that momentum has earned abnormally high risk-adjusted returns — a three factor alpha of 1 percent per month between 1927 and 2012 and 0.5 percent per month between 1867 and 1907 — both statistically significantly different from zero. However, the momentum strategy also exposed investors to large losses (crashes) during both periods. Momentum crashes were predictable — more likely when momentum recently performed well (both eras), interest rates were relatively low (1867–1907), or momentum had recently outperformed the stock market (CRSP era) — times when borrowing or attracting return chasing “blind capital” would have been easier. Based on a stylized model and simulated outcomes from a richer model, we argue that a money manager has an incentive to remain invested in momentum even when the crash risk is known to be high when (1) he competes for funds from return-chasing investors and (2) he is compensated via fees that are convex in the amount of money managed and the return on that money.

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Informational efficiency of the clandestine and official gold markets in Paris

Georges Gallais-Hamonno, Thi-Hong-Van Hoang & Kim Oosterlinck
Economics Letters, January 2015, Pages 28–30

Abstract:
For gold, moving from clandestine to official trading does not significantly change informational efficiency. Both markets are inefficient suggesting that efficiency is linked more to the type of asset than to the legal status of the market.

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Why ‘financialisation’ hasn’t depressed US productive investment

Andrew Kliman & Shannon Williams
Cambridge Journal of Economics, January 2015, Pages 67-92

Abstract:
The rate of capital accumulation in the USA has fallen markedly in recent decades. Works in the financialisation literature have tried to explain this phenomenon by arguing that rising financial payments and purchases have come at the expense of productive investment. This article shows that such arguments are not supported by the data. It also explains theoretically why rising dividend payments and the growth of corporations’ portfolio investment are compatible with the fact that corporations’ productive investment did not decline during the first two decades of ‘neoliberalism’ in the USA. There would necessarily be a trade-off between these uses of funds if they were all funded out of current profits, but there is no necessary trade-off because borrowed funds are an additional source. Finally, the article shows that the fall in US corporations’ rate of profit (rate of return on investment in fixed assets) fully accounts for the fall in their rate of capital accumulation.

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Inside the “Black Box” of Sell-Side Financial Analysts

Lawrence Brown et al.
Journal of Accounting Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Our objective is to penetrate the “black box” of sell-side financial analysts by providing new insights into the inputs analysts use and the incentives they face. We survey 365 analysts and conduct 18 follow-up interviews covering a wide range of topics, including the inputs to analysts’ earnings forecasts and stock recommendations, the value of their industry knowledge, the determinants of their compensation, the career benefits of Institutional Investor All-Star status, and the factors they consider indicative of high-quality earnings. One important finding is that private communication with management is a more useful input to analysts’ earnings forecasts and stock recommendations than their own primary research, recent earnings performance, and recent 10-K and 10-Q reports. Another notable finding is that issuing earnings forecasts and stock recommendations that are well below the consensus often leads to an increase in analysts’ credibility with their investing clients. We conduct cross-sectional analyses that highlight the impact of analyst and brokerage characteristics on analysts’ inputs and incentives. Our findings are relevant to investors, managers, analysts, and academic researchers.

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Information reliability and welfare: A theory of coarse credit ratings

Anand Goel & Anjan Thakor
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
An enduring puzzle is why credit rating agencies (CRAs) use a few categories to describe credit qualities lying in a continuum, even when ratings coarseness reduces welfare. We model a cheap-talk game in which a CRA assigns positive weights to the divergent goals of issuing firms and investors. The CRA wishes to inflate ratings but prefers an unbiased rating to one whose inflation exceeds a threshold. Ratings coarseness arises in equilibrium to preclude excessive rating inflation. We show that competition among CRAs can increase ratings coarseness. We also examine the welfare implications of regulatory initiatives.

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The Psychology of Investment Behavior: (De)Biasing Financial Decision-Making One Graph at a Time

Rod Duclos
Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Consumers’ welfare largely depends on the soundness of their financial decisions. To this effect, the present research examines how people process graphical displays of financial information (e.g., stock-prices) to forecast future trends and invest accordingly. In essence, we ask whether and how visual biases in data interpretation impact financial decision-making and risk-taking. Five experiments find that the last trading day(s) of a stock bear a disproportionately (and unduly) high importance on investment behavior, a phenomenon we coin end-anchoring. Specifically, a stock-price closing upward (downward) fosters upward (downward) forecasts for tomorrow and, accordingly, more (less) investing in the present. Substantial investment asymmetries (up to 75%) emerge even as stock-price distributions were generated randomly to simulate times when the market conjuncture is hesitant and no real upward or downward trend can be identified. Allying experimental manipulations to eye-tracking technology, the present research begins to explore the underpinnings of end-anchoring.

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Retail Financial Advice: Does One Size Fit All?

Stephen Foerster et al.
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
Using unique data on Canadian households, we assess the impact of financial advisors on their clients' portfolios. We find that advisors induce their clients to take more risk, thereby raising expected returns. On the other hand, we find limited evidence of customization: advisors direct clients into similar portfolios independent of their clients' risk preferences and stage in the life cycle. An advisor's own portfolio is a good predictor of the client's portfolio even after controlling for the client's characteristics. This one-size-fits-all advice does not come cheap. The average client pays more than 2.7% each year in fees and thus gives up all of the equity premium gained through increased risk-taking.

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Disentangling Risk and Change: Internal and External Social Comparison in the Mutual Fund Industry

Aleksandra Kacperczyk, Christine Beckman & Thomas Moliterno
Administrative Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using data on 3,225 actively managed U.S. mutual funds from 1980 to 2006, we test hypotheses designed to disentangle risk and change as outcomes of behavioral performance feedback routines. We theorize that managers make decisions involving risk and decisions involving change under different conditions and motivated by different concerns. Our results show internal social comparison across units within a firm will motivate risk, whereas external social comparison across firms will motivate change. When a fund experiences a performance shortfall relative to internal social comparison, the manager is likely to make decisions that involve risk because the social and spatial proximity of internal comparisons trigger individual concern and fear of negative individual consequences, such as job loss. In contrast, when a fund experiences a performance shortfall in comparison with external benchmarks, the manager is more likely to consider the shortfall an organizational concern and make changes that do not necessarily involve risk. Although we might assume that negative performance in comparison with both internal and external benchmarks would spur risky change, our results indicate that risky change occurs most often when a decision maker receives unfavorable internal social performance feedback and favorable external social performance feedback. By questioning assumptions about why and when organizational change involves risk, this study begins to separate change and risk outcomes of the decision-making process.

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Learning on the Job? Employee Mobility in the Asset Management Industry

Aaron Chatterji, Rui De Figueiredo & Evan Rawley
Duke University Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
We present a new mechanism by which prior employment can influence transitions to other firms. We propose that some employees divert effort toward unproductive activities to learn about their own fitness for alternative employment. Based on the results of this costly learning experience, or “experiment,” some employees will transition into other firms or launch their own ventures, while others will remain at the incumbent firm. We develop a theoretical model to explicate these propositions, and test them using four datasets from the mutual fund and hedge fund industries. We find evidence that managers who engage in excessive risk-taking at mutual funds are subsequently more likely to join or start hedge funds, even though there is little evidence that this risk-taking is intended to signal quality to outside observers. Taken together, our findings suggest that learning about one’s own fitness for alternative employment, through experimentation on the job, is an important mechanism for enabling employee mobility.

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Geographic Proximity and Analyst Coverage Decisions: Evidence from IPOs

Patricia O'Brien & Hongping Tan
Journal of Accounting and Economics, February 2015, Pages 41–59

Abstract:
Using hand-collected data on analyst locations, we study how geographic proximity affects analyst coverage decisions for U.S. firms that went public during 1996–2009, along with the impact of local coverage on firm visibility. Analysts are 80% more likely to cover local firms than non-local ones, and nearby non-underwriter analysts initiate coverage one to three weeks earlier than distant ones. Proximity matters most for smaller, less visible firms, for firms with less complex operations and for lower status analysts. Less visible firms may use local analyst coverage as a stepping-stone to increase visibility with other analysts and institutional investors.

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An experimental study of the impact of competition for Other People’s Money: The portfolio manager market

Marina Agranov, Alberto Bisin & Andrew Schotter
Experimental Economics, December 2014, Pages 564-585

Abstract:
In this paper we experimentally investigate the impact that competing for funds has on the risk-taking behavior of laboratory portfolio managers compensated through an option-like scheme according to which the manager receives (most of) the compensation only for returns in excess of pre-specified strike price. We find that such a competitive environment and contractual arrangement lead, both in theory and in the lab, to inefficient risk taking behavior on the part of portfolio managers. We then study various policy interventions, obtained by manipulating various aspects of the competitive environment and the contractual arrangement, e.g., the Transparency of the contracts offered, the Risk Sharing component in the contract linking portfolio managers to investors, etc. While all these interventions would induce portfolio managers, at equilibrium, to efficiently invest funds in safe assets, we find that, in the lab, Transparency is most effective in incentivising managers to do so. Finally, we document a behavioral “Other People’s Money” effect in the lab, where portfolio managers tend to invest the funds of their investors in a more risky manner than their Own Money, even when it is not in either the investors’ or the managers’ interest to do so.

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Do Short-Sellers Profit from Mutual Funds? Evidence from Daily Trades

Salman Arif, Azi Ben-Rephael & Charles Lee
Stanford Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract:
Using high resolution data, we show that short-sellers (SSs) systematically profit from mutual fund (MF) flows. At the daily level, SSs trade strongly in the opposite direction to MFs. This negative relation is associated with the expected component of MF flows (based on prior days’ trading), as well as the unexpected component (based on same-day flows). The ability of SS trades to predict stock returns is up to 3 times greater when MF flows are in the opposite direction. The resulting wealth transfer from MFs to SSs is most pronounced for high-MF-held, low-liquidity firms, and is much larger during periods of high retail sentiment.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Socialize

Declining Loneliness Over Time: Evidence From American Colleges and High Schools

Matthew Clark, Natalie Loxton & Stephanie Tobin
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, January 2015, Pages 78-89

Abstract:
We examined changes in loneliness over time. Study 1 was a cross-temporal meta-analysis of 48 samples of American college students who completed the Revised UCLA Loneliness Scale (total N = 13,041). In Study 1, loneliness declined from 1978 to 2009 (d = −0.26). Study 2 used a representative sample of high school students from the Monitoring the Future project (total N = 385,153). In Study 2, loneliness declined from 1991 to 2012. Declines were similar among White students (d = −0.14), Black students (d = −0.17), male students (d = −0.11), and female students (d = −0.11). Different loneliness factors showed diverging trends. Subjective isolation declined (d = −0.20), whereas social network isolation increased (d = 0.06). We discuss the declines in loneliness within the context of other cultural changes, including changes to group membership and personality.

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Reaching Out by Changing What’s Within: Social Exclusion Increases Self-Concept Malleability

Stephanie Richman et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, March 2015, Pages 64–77

Abstract:
People have a fundamental need to belong that, when thwarted, can affect cognition and behavior in ways designed to regain social connection. Because one of the best predictors of social connection is similarity, the current investigation tests the self-malleability hypothesis, which predicts social exclusion encourages people to modify their self-concepts to increase similarity to others, presumably in pursuit of renewed affiliation. Five studies supported the self-malleability hypothesis. Excluded people expanded their self-concept to incorporate new attributes characteristic of a novel social target but which they did not originally perceive as characteristic of themselves (Study 1). This effect was limited to targets that were construed as potential friends (Study 2) and occurred regardless of whether the potential friend was aware of the change (Study 3). Additionally, after recalling an exclusion experience, people modified even existing self-views to increase similarity to a potential friend (Studies 4a and 4b). Thus, socially excluded people alter the self to gain social connection.

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Does Hugging Provide Stress-Buffering Social Support? A Study of Susceptibility to Upper Respiratory Infection and Illness

Sheldon Cohen et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Perceived social support has been hypothesized to protect against the pathogenic effects of stress. How such protection might be conferred, however, is not well understood. Using a sample of 404 healthy adults, we examined the roles of perceived social support and received hugs in buffering against interpersonal stress-induced susceptibility to infectious disease. Perceived support was assessed by questionnaire, and daily interpersonal conflict and receipt of hugs were assessed by telephone interviews on 14 consecutive evenings. Subsequently, participants were exposed to a virus that causes a common cold and were monitored in quarantine to assess infection and illness signs. Perceived support protected against the rise in infection risk associated with increasing frequency of conflict. A similar stress-buffering effect emerged for hugging, which explained 32% of the attenuating effect of support. Among infected participants, greater perceived support and more-frequent hugs each predicted less-severe illness signs. These data suggest that hugging may effectively convey social support.

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Emotionships: Examining People’s Emotion-Regulation Relationships and Their Consequences for Well-Being

Elaine Cheung, Wendi Gardner & Jason Anderson
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Is it better to have a few relationships that can fulfill all our emotion-regulation needs or to have a more diverse relationship portfolio, in which different individuals serve distinct emotion-regulation needs? The present research examined how people distribute their emotion-regulation needs across different emotion-specific regulation relationships (emotionships) and their consequences for well-being. Study 1 demonstrated the existence of emotionships by showing that individuals can name discrete relationships that they consider effective at regulating specific emotions (e.g., I turn to my sister to cheer me up when I'm sad) and that the accessibility and value of these relationships change as a function of manipulated emotional states. Studies 2a and 2b revealed that individuals who diversified their emotion-regulation needs across multiple specialized relationships (e.g., having distinct relationships for cheering up sadness vs. soothing anxiety) showed higher well-being than those with similar numbers of close relationships, but who concentrated their emotion-regulation needs in fewer, less specialized relationships.

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Examining the many dimensions of children’s popularity: Interactions between aggression, prosocial behaviors, and gender

Mariah Kornbluh & Jennifer Watling Neal
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using peer nomination data, this study explored predictors of popularity among 144 third- through eighth-grade students in a diverse urban school. Findings demonstrated that children were more likely to be nominated as popular by peers when they exhibited higher levels of prosocial behavior or aggression. Furthermore, a significant interaction between prosocial behavior and aggression predicted popularity. Children with high levels of peer-nominated aggression were more likely to be viewed as popular when they were also nominated by their peers for engaging in high levels of prosocial behavior. Lastly, findings suggested that the positive association between prosocial behavior and popularity was stronger for girls than boys. Implications and areas for future research are discussed.

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Is ostracism by a despised outgroup really hurtful? A replication and extension of Gonsalkorale and Williams (2007)

Marie-Pierre Fayant et al.
Social Psychology, November/December 2014, Pages 489-494

Abstract:
Previous research has shown that being ostracized by members of a despised outgroup is as hurtful as being ostracized by ingroup members (Gonsalkorale & Williams, 2007). In the current study, we conduct a direct replication of the Gonsalkorale and Williams’s study and also investigate whether this (lack of) effect is due to the way negative consequences of ostracism were measured. To do so, we created a new measure that directly assesses whether people were hurt from being ostracized (or not). Our results and a small-scale meta-analysis including Gonsalkorale and Williams’s results show that ostracism effects are not significantly diminished when the source of ostracism is a despised outgroup. We discuss theoretical and methodological implications.

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Vagal Flexibility: A Physiological Predictor of Social Sensitivity

Luma Muhtadie et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research explores vagal flexibility — dynamic modulation of cardiac vagal control — as an individual-level physiological index of social sensitivity. In 4 studies, we test the hypothesis that individuals with greater cardiac vagal flexibility, operationalized as higher cardiac vagal tone at rest and greater cardiac vagal withdrawal (indexed by a decrease in respiratory sinus arrhythmia) during cognitive or attentional demand, perceive social-emotional information more accurately and show greater sensitivity to their social context. Study 1 sets the foundation for this investigation by establishing that vagal flexibility can be elicited consistently in the laboratory and reliably over time. Study 2 demonstrates that vagal flexibility has different associations with psychological characteristics than does vagal tone, and that these characteristics are primarily social in nature. Study 3 links individual differences in vagal flexibility with accurate detection of social and emotional cues depicted in still facial images. Study 4 demonstrates that individuals with greater vagal flexibility respond to dynamic social feedback in a more context-sensitive manner than do individuals with less vagal flexibility. Specifically, compared with their less flexible counterparts, individuals with greater vagal flexibility, when assigned to receive negative social feedback, report more shame, show more pronounced blood pressure responses, and display less sociable behavior, but when receiving positive social feedback display more sociable behavior. Taken together, these findings suggest that vagal flexibility is a useful individual difference physiological predictor of social sensitivity, which may have implications for clinical, developmental, and health psychologists.

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Narcissistic Tendencies Among Actors: Craving for Admiration, But Not at the Cost of Others

Michael Dufner et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Building on a two-dimensional reconceptualization of grandiose narcissism, we investigated how narcissistic admiration (the tendency toward agentic self-promotion) and rivalry (the tendency toward other derogation) are related to acting. Study 1 (N = 583) showed that acting students scored higher on narcissistic admiration than students with other majors, but at the same time, the acting students scored lower on rivalry. In Study 2 (N = 283), we compared improvisational theater actors with a comparison group and found the same pattern: Admiration was higher, but rivalry was lower among the actors (across both self-reports and informant reports). Effects persisted when we controlled for sex, age, self-esteem, extraversion, and agreeableness. Additional analyses indicated that actors who were high in admiration were primarily motivated by applause. Taken together, these findings indicate that acting is an activity that attracts individuals with a strong narcissistic desire for admiration but repulses people with an inclination toward narcissistic other derogation.

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Perceived Social Support Reduces the Pain of Spending Money

Qian Xu et al.
Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
People experience pain when they spend money. Because previous studies have shown that perceived social support reduces physical pain, this research examined whether perceived social support reduces spending pain. Our studies showed that both real and recalled social support reduced spending pain (Studies 1–3) and that perceived social support reduced the perceived importance of money as a protection mechanism, which in turn reduced spending pain (Studies 1 and 3). Moreover, the pain-buffering effect of social support was stronger for hedonic purchases than for utilitarian purchases (Study 2). This research broadens our understanding of the factors that enhance consumer experiences and the relationships among love, security, and pain.

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Oxytocin Receptor and Vasopressin receptor 1a genes are respectively associated with emotional and cognitive empathy

Florina Uzefovsky et al.
Hormones and Behavior, January 2015, Pages 60–65

Abstract:
Empathy is the ability to recognize and share in the emotions of others. It can be considered a multi-faceted concept with cognitive and emotional aspects. Little is known regarding the underlying neurochemistry of empathy and in the current study we used a neurogenetic approach to explore possible brain neurotransmitter pathways contributing to cognitive and emotional empathy. Both the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) and the arginine vasopressin receptor 1a (AVPR1a) genes contribute to social cognition in both animals and humans and hence are prominent candidates for contributing to empathy. The following research examined the associations between polymorphisms in these two genes and individual differences in emotional and cognitive empathy in a sample of 367 young adults. Intriguingly, we found that emotional empathy was associated solely with OXTR whereas cognitive empathy was associated solely with AVPR1a. Moreover, no interaction was observed between the two genes and measures of empathy. The current findings contribute to our understanding of the distinct neurogenetic pathways involved in cognitive and emotional empathy and underscore the pervasive role of both oxytocin and vasopressin in modulating human emotions.

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Number of Siblings and Social Skills Revisited Among American Fifth Graders

Douglas Downey, Dennis Condron & Deniz Yucel
Journal of Family Issues, January 2015, Pages 273-296

Abstract:
Most research on the consequences of the number of siblings highlights their downside — the negative association between sibship size and educational outcomes. But recently scholars have begun to understand the potential benefits of siblings, with some research indicating that kindergartners are more socially adept when they have at least one brother or sister. We expand this line of inquiry by studying fifth graders, a point where sufficient school-based peer interactions have occurred to potentially eliminate the social skills deficit observed among only children beginning kindergarten. Analyzing 11,820 children from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Kindergarten Cohort of 1998-99, we find that, contrary to our expectations, only children failed to gain more social skills between kindergarten and fifth grade than their counterparts with siblings. This pattern has important implications for the one in five children now raised without siblings.

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Effects of lateral head tilt on user perceptions of humanoid and android robots

Martina Mara & Markus Appel
Computers in Human Behavior, March 2015, Pages 326–334

Abstract:
Human responses to android and humanoid robots have become an important topic to social scientists due to the increasing prevalence of social and service robots in everyday life. The present research connects work on the effects of lateral (sideward) head tilts, an eminent feature of nonverbal human behavior, to the experience of android and humanoid robots. In two experiments (N = 402; N = 253) the influence of lateral head tilts on user perceptions of android and humanoid robots were examined. Photo portrayals of three different robots (Asimo, Kojiro, Telenoid) were manipulated. The stimuli included head tilts of −20°, −10° (left tilt), +10°, +20° (right tilt) and 0° (upright position). Compared to an upright head posture, we found higher scores for attributed human likeness, cuteness, and spine-tinglingness when the identical robots conveyed a head tilt. Results for perceived warmth, eeriness, attractiveness, and dominance varied with the robot or head tilts yielded no effects. Implications for the development and marketing of android and humanoid robots are discussed.

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The Dark Triad and trait self-objectification as predictors of men’s use and self-presentation behaviors on social networking sites

Jesse Fox & Margaret Rooney
Personality and Individual Differences, April 2015, Pages 161–165

Abstract:
An online survey of a nationally representative sample of U.S. men aged 18–40 assessed trait predictors of social networking site use as well as two forms of visual self-presentation: editing one’s image in photographs posted on social networking sites (SNSs) and posting “selfies,” or pictures users take of themselves. We examined the Dark Triad (i.e., narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy) and trait self-objectification as predictors. Self-objectification and narcissism predicted time spent on SNSs. Narcissism and psychopathy predicted the number of selfies posted, whereas narcissism and self-objectification predicted editing photographs of oneself posted on SNSs. We discuss selective self-presentation processes on social media and how these traits may influence interpersonal relationship development in computer-mediated communication.

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Nice to Meet You — Adult Age Differences in Empathic Accuracy for Strangers

Elisabeth Blanke, Antje Rauers & Michaela Riediger
Psychology and Aging, forthcoming

Abstract:
Empathic accuracy is the ability to correctly identify others’ thoughts and feelings. Based on evidence from past laboratory experiments, researchers concluded that this ability decreases throughout adulthood. This conclusion, however, was mostly based on evidence regarding isolated components of the ability to read others’ thoughts and feelings (e.g., inferring thoughts or feelings from facial expressions presented without context). In contrast, empathic accuracy involves the integration of a multitude of such inferences from diverse sources of information that are available in everyday interactions (e.g., facial and bodily expressions, prosody, communication content, situational context, etc.). To strengthen empirical evidence on age differences in this integrative ability, we assessed empathic accuracy in dyadic interactions between 102 younger (20–31 years) and 106 older (69–80 years) women, paired in same-age or mixed-age dyads. In these interactions, older women were only less empathically accurate than younger women when judging their interaction partner’s negative feelings and when judging thoughts that accompanied experiences of negative affect. In contrast, there were no age differences in empathic accuracy for positive feelings and for thoughts accompanying experiences of positive affect. These results were independent of the age of the interaction partner. The current study thus provides further evidence that age differences in empathic accuracy (a) may be qualified by situational properties, such as valence of inferred content, and (b) can be less pronounced when integration of multiple sources of information is possible than research investigating isolated information channels has thus far suggested.

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A Comparison of Adolescents’ Friendship Networks by Advanced Coursework Participation Status

Carolyn Barber & Jillian Woodford Wasson
Gifted Child Quarterly, January 2015, Pages 23-37

Abstract:
Friendships serve as a source of support and as a context for developing social competence. Although advanced coursework may provide a unique context for the development of friendships, more research is needed to explore exactly what differences exist. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and the Adolescent Health and Academic Achievement Study, we compared the friendship networks of students taking advanced mathematics and English coursework to those of similar nonparticipants. Groups were compared on the number of sent or received nominations based on students’ listings of friends, the presence and reciprocation of best friendships, and friends’ academic engagement and diversity. Controlling for background, advanced coursework participants had larger networks and more engaged friends than did nonparticipants. Small differences in age heterogeneity and in the likelihood of reciprocal best friendships with female friends were found in English course-taking. Participants’ networks were also somewhat less racially diverse.

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Actors Conform, Observers React: The Effects of Behavioral Synchrony on Conformity

Ping Dong, Xianchi Dai & Robert Wyer
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Engaging in synchronous behavior can induce a more general disposition to copy others, which increases the tendency to conform to others’ preferences in an unrelated choice situation. In contrast, observing others perform synchronous behavior can induce psychological reactance and decrease conformity to others’ preferences. Five experiments confirmed these different effects and circumscribed the conditions in which they occurred. Actors typically focus their attention on the goal to which their synchronous behavior is directed, inducing a copying-others mindset that generalizes to later situations. In contrast, observers focus on the actors’ behavior independently of the goal to which it pertains. Consequently, they become sensitive to the restrictions on freedom that synchronous behavior requires and experience reactance. However, changing the relative attention that actors and observers pay to these factors can reverse the effects of the actors’ synchronous behavior on conformity.

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Reciprocal associations between friendship attachment and relational experiences in adolescence

Chong Man Chow, Holly Ruhl & Duane Buhrmester
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
The current study examined the reciprocal associations between friendship attachment and relational experiences. Data came from a longitudinal study that assessed adolescents (N = 223, 108 girls) in the 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grades. Cross-lagged models were fitted with structural equation modeling. Results showed that attachment avoidance was consistently predictive of more friendship exclusion, and friendship exclusion was consistently predictive of more attachment anxiety. Attachment avoidance was consistently related to less friendship intimacy across adolescence. Friendship intimacy was also consistently related to lower attachment avoidance across adolescence. Attachment anxiety was consistently related to more friendship intimacy across adolescence. This study shed light on the bidirectional influences between attachment security and relational experiences in adolescent friendships.

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Self-Disclosure and the Liking of Participants in Reality TV

Nurit Tal-Or & Michal Hershman-Shitrit
Human Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Reality TV shows are characterized by the very intimate self-disclosure of their participants early on in the shows. In everyday interactions, however, such intimate self-disclosure is welcomed only when it evolves gradually. This discrepancy between reality shows and real life apparently contradicts previous research documenting the similarity between real relationships and relationships with media characters. The current research explores this apparent contradiction by examining whether the relationship between self-disclosure and liking and the rules about the timing of self-disclosure that apply in everyday interactions apply in reality TV. Study 1 shows that viewers prefer characters who make early intimate disclosures, and Study 2 shows that they prefer this disclosure to evolve gradually and become more intimate, as in real relationships.

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Great Ape Origins of Personality Maturation and Sex Differences: A Study of Orangutans and Chimpanzees

Alexander Weiss & James King
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Human personality development evinces increased emotional stability, prosocial tendencies, and responsibility. One hypothesis offered to explain this pattern is Social-Investment Theory, which posits that culturally defined social roles, including marriage and employment, are responsible for the increased maturity. Alternatively, Five-Factor Theory emphasizes the role of biological factors, such as those governing physical development, which may predate the emergence of humans. Five-Factor Theory, unlike Social-Investment Theory, predicts that all or some of the human personality developmental trends should be present in great apes, our closest evolutionary relatives. To test this prediction and to better understand the evolutionary origins of sex differences, we examined age and sex differences in the chimpanzee and orangutan personality domains Extraversion, Dominance, Neuroticism, and Agreeableness. We also examined the Activity and Gregariousness facets of Extraversion and the orangutan Intellect domain. Extraversion and Neuroticism declined across age groups in both species, in common with humans. A significant interaction indicated that Agreeableness declined in orangutans but increased in chimpanzees, as it does in humans, though this may reflect differences in how Agreeableness was defined in each species. Significant interactions indicated that male chimpanzees, unlike male orangutans, displayed higher Neuroticism scores than females and maintained higher levels of Activity and Dominance into old age than female chimpanzees, male orangutans, and female orangutans. Personality–age correlations were comparable across orangutans and chimpanzees and were similar to those reported in human studies. Sex differences were stronger in chimpanzees than in humans or orangutans. These findings support Five-Factor Theory, suggest the role of gene–culture coevolution in shaping personality development, and suggest that sex differences evolved independently in different species.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, January 3, 2015

More than a feeling

The Unburdening Effects of Forgiveness: Effects on Slant Perception and Jumping Height

Xue Zheng et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research shows that in the aftermath of conflict, forgiveness improves victims’ well-being and the victim–offender relationship. Building on the research on embodied perception and economy of action, we demonstrate that forgiveness also has implications for victims’ perceptions and behavior in the physical domain. Metaphorically, unforgiveness is a burden that can be lightened by forgiveness; we show that people induced to feel forgiveness perceive hills to be less steep (Study 1) and jump higher in an ostensible fitness test (Study 2) than people who are induced to feel unforgiveness. These findings suggest that forgiveness may lighten the physical burden of unforgiveness, providing evidence that forgiveness can help victims overcome the negative effects of conflict.

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Some like it hot: Testosterone predicts laboratory eating behavior of spicy food

Laurent Bègue et al.
Physiology & Behavior, February 2015, Pages 375–377

Abstract:
In the present study, we analyzed the relationship between eating behavior of spicy food and endogenous testosterone. Participants included 114 males between the ages of 18 and 44 recruited from the community. They were asked to indicate their preferences regarding spicy food and were then asked to season a sample of mashed potatoes with pepper sauce and salt (control substance) prior to evaluating the spiciness of the meal. A positive correlation was observed between endogenous salivary testosterone and the quantity of hot sauce individuals voluntarily and spontaneously consumed with a meal served as part of a laboratory task. In contrast, significant correlations were not observed between testosterone and behavioral preference for salty foods. This study suggests that behavioral preference for spicy food among men is related to endogenous testosterone levels.

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Seeing Is Believing: Impact of Social Modeling on Placebo and Nocebo Responding

Kate Faasse et al.
Health Psychology, forthcoming

Objective: This study investigated the impact of the social modeling of side effects following placebo medication ingestion on the nocebo and placebo effect. It also investigated whether medication branding (brand or generic labeling) moderated social modeling effects.

Method: Eighty-two university students took part in the study which was purportedly investigating the impact of fast-acting beta-blocker medications (actually placebos) on preexamination anxiety. After taking the medication, participants were randomized to either witness a female confederate report experiencing side effects or no side effects after taking the same medication. Differences in symptom reporting, blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety were assessed between the social modeling of side effects and no modeling groups.

Results: Seeing a female confederate report side effects reduced the placebo effect in systolic (p = .009) and diastolic blood pressure (p = .033). Seeing a female confederate report side effects also increased both total reported symptoms (mean [SE] 7.35 [.54] vs. 5.16 [0.53] p = .005) and symptoms attributed to the medication (5.27 [0.60] vs. 3.04 [0.59] p = .01), although the effect on symptoms was only seen in female participants. Females who saw the confederate report side effects reported approximately twice the number of symptoms as those in the no modeling group. Social modeling did not affect heart rate or anxiety. Medication branding did not influence placebo or nocebo outcomes.

Conclusions: The social modeling of symptoms can substantially reduce or eliminate the placebo effect. Viewing a female confederate display symptoms after taking the same medication increases symptom reporting in females.

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Cardiac perception enhances stress experience

Nicole Kindermann & Natalie Werner
Journal of Psychophysiology, Fall 2014, Pages 225-232

Abstract:
In the present study we aimed to investigate the impact of the ability to perceive bodily changes as indexed by the perception of one’s heartbeat (cardiac perception) on emotional experience when being confronted with a mental stressor. To induce stress, participants high and low in cardiac perception performed a computerized mental arithmetic test while listening to a white noise increasing in volume. Emotional experience and heart rate were assessed as indices of stress response. Our results show that participants high in cardiac perception reported more negative emotions during the stress period compared to participants low in cardiac perception, though heart rate did not differ between the groups. Our findings suggest that cardiac perception moderates the stress experience by enhancing the perceived emotion. Thus we were able to demonstrate that cardiac perception contributes as a factor explaining the variance in individuals’ emotional response to a stressor.

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Cold Thermal Temperature Threatens Belonging: The Moderating Role of Perceived Social Support

Zhansheng Chen, Kai-Tak Poon & Nathan DeWall
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent research suggests that thermal (cold vs. warm) experience influences people’s perception and construal of the social world. Extending this line of research, the present investigation examined whether cold thermal temperature would influence people’s psychological feelings of belonging. We found that drinking cold water threatened feelings of belonging (Study 1). An additional study replicated this effect and further showed that it was moderated by perceived family support, such that the effect of cold water on the belonging was only found among participants with low family support (Study 2). These findings not only strengthen the interconnection between social and physical experiences, but they also demonstrate the interactive effect of these two types of experiences on psychological feelings. Implications are discussed.

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Does salt increase thirst?

Micah Leshem
Appetite, February 2015, Pages 70–75

Abstract:
Our diet is believed to be overly rich in sodium, and it is commonly believed that sodium intake increases drinking. Hence the concern of a possible contribution of dietary sodium to beverage intake which in turn may contribute to obesity and ill health. Here we examine whether voluntary, acute intake of a sodium load, as occurs in routine eating and snacking, increases thirst and drinking. We find that after ingesting 3.5 or 4.4 g NaCl (men) and 1.9 or 3.7 g (women) on nuts during 15 minutes, there is no increase in thirst or drinking of freely available water in the following 2 h compared with eating similar amounts of sugared or unflavored nuts. This suggests that routine ingestion of boluses of salt (~30–40% of daily intake for men, ~ 20–40% for women) does not increase drinking. Methodological concerns such as about nuts as vehicle for sodium suggest further research to establish the generalizability of this unexpected result.

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A mind you can count on: Validating breath counting as a behavioral measure of mindfulness

Daniel Levinson et al.
Frontiers in Psychology, October 2014

Abstract:
Mindfulness practice of present moment awareness promises many benefits, but has eluded rigorous behavioral measurement. To date, research has relied on self-reported mindfulness or heterogeneous mindfulness trainings to infer skillful mindfulness practice and its effects. In four independent studies with over 400 total participants, we present the first construct validation of a behavioral measure of mindfulness, breath counting. We found it was reliable, correlated with self-reported mindfulness, differentiated long-term meditators from age-matched controls, and was distinct from sustained attention and working memory measures. In addition, we employed breath counting to test the nomological network of mindfulness. As theorized, we found skill in breath counting associated with more meta-awareness, less mind wandering, better mood, and greater non-attachment (i.e., less attentional capture by distractors formerly paired with reward). We also found in a randomized online training study that 4 weeks of breath counting training improved mindfulness and decreased mind wandering relative to working memory training and no training controls. Together, these findings provide the first evidence for breath counting as a behavioral measure of mindfulness.

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Perceiving one's body shapes empathy

Delphine Grynberg & Olga Pollatos
Physiology & Behavior, March 2015, Pages 54–60

Background: Empathy is a basic human ability with affective and cognitive facets and high interindividual variability. Accurately detecting one's internal body signals (interoceptive sensitivity) strongly contributes to the awareness of oneself and is known to interact with emotional and cognitive processes. This study investigated whether interoceptive sensitivity (i.e., heartbeat perception task) shapes affective and cognitive empathy.

Methods: Ninety-three participants were asked to report the valence of their feelings, as well as the degree of compassion, arousal, and distress they felt in response to pictures depicting other people in pain or in non-pain situations. Participants also had to estimate how painful the situation was.

Results: Main results showed that greater interoceptive sensitivity enhanced the estimated degree of pain (cognitive empathy), as well as arousal and feelings of compassion (affective empathy), in response to painful pictures.

Conclusions: The accurate perception of bodily states and their representation shape both affective and cognitive empathy. This perception enables us to feel more compassion for another person and to evaluate the pain that they experience as being more intense.

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Mentally walking through doorways causes forgetting: The location updating effect and imagination

Zachary Lawrence & Daniel Peterson
Memory, forthcoming

Abstract:
Researchers have documented an intriguing phenomenon whereby simply walking through a doorway causes forgetting (the location updating effect). The Event Horizon Model is the most commonly cited theory to explain these data. Importantly, this model explains the effect without invoking the importance or reliance upon perceptual information (i.e., seeing oneself pass through the doorway). This generates the intriguing hypothesis that the effect may be demonstrated in participants who simply imagine walking through a doorway. Across two experiments, we explicitly test this hypothesis. Participants familiarised themselves with both real (Experiment 1) and virtual (Experiment 2) environments which served as the setting for their mental walk. They were then provided with an image to remember and were instructed to imagine themselves walking through the previously presented space. In both experiments, when the mental walk required participants to pass through a doorway, more forgetting occurred, consistent with the predictions laid out in the Event Horizon Model.

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Inhibition-Induced Forgetting: When More Control Leads to Less Memory

Yu-Chin Chiu & Tobias Egner
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The ability to inhibit prepotent responses is a core executive function, but the relation of response inhibition to other cognitive operations is poorly understood. In the study reported here, we examined inhibitory control through the lens of incidental memory. Participants categorized face stimuli by gender in a go/no-go task (Experiments 1 and 2) or a stop-signal task (Experiment 3) and, after a short delay, performed a surprise recognition memory task for those faces. Memory was impaired for stimuli presented during no-go and stop trials compared with those presented during go trials. Experiment 4 showed that this inhibition-induced forgetting was not attributable to event congruency. In Experiment 5, we combined a go/no-go task with a dot-probe test and found that probe detection during no-go trials was inferior to that on go trials. This result supports the hypothesis that inhibition-induced forgetting occurs when response inhibition shunts attentional resources from perceptual stimulus encoding to action control.

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The effects of romantic love on mentalizing abilities

Rafael Wlodarski & Robin Dunbar
Review of General Psychology, December 2014, Pages 313-321

Abstract:
The effects of the human pair-bonded state of “romantic love” on cognitive function remain relatively unexplored. Theories on cognitive priming suggest that a state of love may activate love-relevant schemas, such as mentalizing about the beliefs of another individual, and may thus improve mentalizing abilities. On the other hand, recent functional MRI (fMRI) research on individuals who are in love suggests that several brain regions associated with mentalizing may be “deactivated” during the presentation of a love prime, potentially affecting mentalizing cognitions and behaviors. The current study aimed to investigate experimentally the effect of a love prime on a constituent aspect of mentalizing — the attribution of emotional states to others. Ninety-one participants who stated they were “deeply in love” with their romantic partner completed a cognitive task involving the assessment of emotional content of facial stimuli (the Reading the Mind in the Eyes task) immediately after the presentation of either a love prime or a neutral prime. Individuals were significantly better at interpreting the emotional states of others after a love prime than after a neutral prime, particularly males assessing negative emotional stimuli. These results suggest that presentation of a love stimulus can prime love-relevant networks and enhance subsequent performance on conceptually related mentalizing tasks.

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Architectural Design and the Brain: Effects of Ceiling Height and Perceived Enclosure on Beauty Judgments and Approach-avoidance Decisions

Oshin Vartanian et al.
Journal of Environmental Psychology, March 2015, Pages 10–18

Abstract:
We examined the effects of ceiling height and perceived enclosure — defined as perceived visual and locomotive permeability — on aesthetic judgments and approach-avoidance decisions in architectural design. Furthermore, to gain traction on the mechanisms driving the observed effects, we employed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to explore their neural correlates. Rooms with higher ceilings were more likely to be judged as beautiful, and activated structures involved in visuospatial exploration and attention in the dorsal stream. Open rooms were more likely to be judged as beautiful, and activated structures underlying perceived visual motion. Additionally, enclosed rooms were more likely to elicit exit decisions and activated the anterior midcingulate cortex (aMCC) — the region within the cingulate gyrus with direct projections from the amygdala. This suggests that a reduction in perceived visual and locomotive permeability characteristic of enclosed spaces might elicit an emotional reaction that accompanies exit decisions.

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Single bouts of exercise selectively sustain attentional processes

Matthew Pontifex et al.
Psychophysiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examined how single bouts of exercise may differentially modulate neuroelectric correlates of attentional orienting and processing. Using a within-participants design, ERPs and task performance were assessed in response to a perceptually challenging three-stimulus oddball task prior to and following a bout of exercise or seated rest during two separate, counterbalanced sessions. Findings revealed that, following a single bout of exercise, attentional processing was sustained relative to pretest whereas prolonged sitting resulted in attentional decrements. Focal attention resulting from attentional orienting, in contrast, does not appear to be sensitive to the influences of single bouts of physical activity. These findings suggest that acute exercise-induced changes in cognition do not originate from an overall modulation of attention but instead are specific to aspects of attentional processing.

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The Size-Weight Illusion Induced Through Human Echolocation

Gavin Buckingham et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Certain blind individuals have learned to interpret the echoes of self-generated sounds to perceive the structure of objects in their environment. The current work examined how far the influence of this unique form of sensory substitution extends by testing whether echolocation-induced representations of object size could influence weight perception. A small group of echolocation experts made tongue clicks or finger snaps toward cubes of varying sizes and weights before lifting them. These echolocators experienced a robust size-weight illusion. This experiment provides the first demonstration of a sensory substitution technique whereby the substituted sense influences the conscious perception through an intact sense.

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Perceiving a story outside of conscious awareness: When we infer narrative attributes from subliminal sequential stimuli

Naoaki Kawakami & Fujio Yoshida
Consciousness and Cognition, May 2015, Pages 53–66

Abstract:
Perceiving a story behind successive movements plays an important role in our lives. From a general perspective, such higher mental activity would seem to depend on conscious processes. Using a subliminal priming paradigm, we demonstrated that such story perception occurs without conscious awareness. In the experiments, participants were subliminally presented with sequential pictures that represented a story in which one geometrical figure was chased by the other figure, and in which one fictitious character defeated the other character in a tug-of-war. Although the participants could not report having seen the pictures, their automatic mental associations (i.e., associations that are activated unintentionally, difficult to control, and not necessarily endorsed at a conscious level) were shifted to line up with the story. The results suggest that story perception operates outside of conscious awareness. Implications for research on the unconscious were also briefly discussed.

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Just the sight of you: Postural effects of interpersonal visual contact at sea

Manuel Varlet et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, December 2014, Pages 2310-2318

Abstract:
The control of standing body posture is affected by mechanical perturbations, such as motion of the support surface. Postural activity also is responsive to subtle social factors: When 2 people interact there is spontaneous interpersonal coordination of their movements. We asked whether interpersonal postural coordination based on visual contact would be robust in the presence of mechanical perturbations that characterize sea travel. During an ocean voyage, pairs of participants stood facing together or facing apart. Interpersonal coordination of body sway was stronger when participants faced each other than when they faced apart. Furthermore, overall body movement was reduced when individuals faced together, suggesting that the sight of another person improved individuals’ ability to compensate for ship motion. These findings provide the first evidence that the “soft” constraint of interpersonal visual contact can influence interpersonal postural coordination as people simultaneously adjust postural sway in response to powerful mechanical (i.e., “hard”) constraints.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, January 2, 2015

Advanced placement

The Empire Is Dead, Long Live the Empire! Long-Run Persistence of Trust and Corruption in the Bureaucracy

Sascha Becker et al.
Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We hypothesize that the Habsburg Empire with its well-respected administration increased citizens’ trust in local public services. In several Eastern European countries, communities on both sides of the long-gone Habsburg border have shared common formal institutions for a century now. We use a border specification and a two-dimensional geographic regression discontinuity design to identify from individuals living within a restricted band around the former border. We find that historical Habsburg affiliation increases current trust and reduces corruption in courts and police. Falsification tests of spuriously moved borders, geographic and pre-existing differences, and interpersonal trust corroborate a genuine Habsburg effect.

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Forced Coexistence and Economic Development: Evidence From Native American Reservations

Christian Dippel
Econometrica, November 2014, Pages 2131–2165

Abstract:
Studying Native American reservations, and their historical formation, I find that their forced integration of autonomous polities into a system of shared governance had large negative long-run consequences, even though the affected people were ethnically and linguistically homogenous. Reservations that combined multiple sub-tribal bands when they were formed are 30% poorer today, even when conditioning on pre-reservation political traditions. The results hold with tribe fixed effects, identifying only off within-tribe variation across reservations. I also provide estimates from an instrumental variable strategy based on historical mining rushes that led to exogenously more centralized reservations. Data on the timing of economic divergence and on contemporary political conflict suggest that the primary mechanism runs from persistent social divisions through the quality of local governance to the local economic environment.

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Does Law and Order Attenuate the Benefits of Democracy on Economic Growth?

Andreas Assiotis & Kevin Sylwester
Economica, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent studies have reported positive associations between democracy and economic growth. They have also explored how associations could differ across regions or income levels. However, might the effects of democracy on growth also depend on factors such as institutions promoting law and order? Using a panel specification, we employ a democracy–law and order interactive term to examine if the effects of democracy on economic growth depend on these other institutions. We find that positive effects of democracy diminish and might even turn negative in countries where other institutions such as those supporting law and order are strong.

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Foreign Aided: Why Democratization Brings Growth When Democracy Does Not

Jacob Gerner Hariri
British Journal of Political Science, January 2015, Pages 53-71

Abstract:
There is an unresolved puzzle in research on the economics of democracy. While there is consensus that democracy is not generally associated with higher rates of economic growth, recent studies have found that democratization is followed by growth. But why should becoming a democracy bring growth if being one does not? This article shows that a substantial and immediate influx of foreign aid into new democracies accounts for the positive growth effect of democratization. The domestic regime characteristics of neither democracy nor democratization therefore seems to bring growth. The importance of aid in explaining the democratization-growth nexus underscores that democratizations do not occur in vacuum and cannot be fully understood from internal factors alone.

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The franchise, taxes, and public goods: The political economy of infrastructure investment in nineteenth century England

Jonathan Chapman
Caltech Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract:
Many theories of democratization suggest that extending the right to vote will lead to increased government expenditure (e.g. Meltzer and Richard, 1981; Lizzeri and Persico, 2004; Acemoglu and Robinson, 2000). However, these models frequently assume that government can engage in transfer expenditure, which is often not true for local governments. This paper presents and tests a model in which government expenditure is limited to the provision of public goods. The model predicts that the poor and the rich desire lower public goods expenditure than the middle class: the rich because of the relatively high tax burden, and the poor because of a high marginal utility of consumption. Consequently extensions of the franchise to the poor can be associated with declines in government expenditure on public goods. This prediction is tested using a new dataset of local government financial accounts in England between 1867 and 1900, which captures government expenditure on key infrastructure projects that are not included in many studies of national democratic reform. The empirical analysis exploits plausibly exogenous variation in the extent of the franchise to identify the effects of extending voting rights to the poor. The results show strong support for the theoretical prediction: expenditure increased following relatively small extensions of the franchise, but fell following extensions of the franchise beyond around 50% of the adult male population.

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Unintended Consequences of Women’s Inheritance Rights on Female Mortality in India

Daniel Rosenblum
Economic Development and Cultural Change, January 2015, Pages 223-248

Abstract:
Before 2005, most states of India only gave sons the legal right to inherit their parents’ ancestral land. However, five states in India had legal reforms giving daughters the same inheritance rights as sons. This article examines the impact of these reforms on female child mortality and fertility. A model shows that if parents desire to maximize their bequest per son, then giving daughters inheritance rights increases the cost of daughters, causing parents to reduce investment in their daughters’ health or decrease fertility. A difference-in-difference analysis shows that the reforms caused an increase in female child mortality but had no effect on fertility rates.

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It's a Small World after All: Internet Access and Institutional Quality

Kathleen Sheehan & Andrew Young
Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a panel of up to 114 countries covering the years 1990 through 2010, we estimate the effect of Internet use on changes in countries' Economic Freedom of the World (EFW) scores. The point estimates suggest that the marginal effect is generally positive. However, starting from above-average EFW scores (>7.7 out of 10; examples in 2010 include the UK, Switzerland, and Hong Kong) the marginal effect turns negative. Taking this interaction into account, the marginal effect is positive and statistically significant for countries starting at initial EFW scores of around 6 or less. Examples of countries with 2010 EFW scores near this threshold include China, Nigeria, and Pakistan. We discuss mechanisms that potentially generate this conditional relationship between Internet use and institutional change.

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Aid Externalities: Evidence from PEPFAR in Africa

Melissa Lee & Melina Platas Izama
World Development, March 2015, Pages 281–294

Abstract:
Do targeted aid programs have unintended consequences outside of the target issue area? We investigate this question with an examination of one of the largest targeted aid programs in the world: the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Critics of PEPFAR worry that a targeted program focusing on single diseases has a negative externality, in which the influx of massive amounts of target aid damages broader public health systems in countries that receive PEPFAR funds. Using a difference-in-differences identification strategy, we find statistical evidence that supports critics of targeted aid.

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The great Indian calorie debate: Explaining rising undernourishment during India’s rapid economic growth

Lisa Smith
Food Policy, January 2015, Pages 53–67

Abstract:
The prevalence of undernourishment in India – the percent of people consuming insufficient calories to meet their energy requirements – has been rising steadily since the mid 1980s. Paradoxically, this period has been one of robust poverty reduction and rapid economic growth. The reasons for the apparent reductions in calorie consumption underlying increased undernourishment have been the subject of intense debate both within India and internationally. This paper critically reviews this debate, finding that is has taken place outside of the context of India’s recent nutrition and epidemiological transitions, which appear to have brought with them increased, not decreased, food consumption. The debate has also taken place under the unchallenged assumption that the data on which the conflicting trends are based, collected as part of the country’s Household Consumption and Expenditure Surveys (HCESs), are reliable. The paper provides supporting literature and empirical evidence that a probable key source of the calorie decline is incomplete collection of data on food consumed away from peoples’ homes, which is widespread and rapidly increasing. Complete measurement of this food source in the HCESs of all developing countries is vital for accurate measurement of both undernourishment and poverty – and for resolving the Indian calorie debate.

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Copper sheathing and the British slave trade

Peter Solar & Klas Rönnbäck
Economic History Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
British slave traders were early and rapid adopters of the new technique of sheathing ships' hulls with copper. From the 1780s this innovation increased sailing speeds of British slave ships by about a sixth, prolonged the ships' lives by at least a half, and reduced the death rates of slaves on the middle passage by about half. It was, above all, the fall in death rates, and possibly the improved condition of surviving slaves, that made the investment so compelling. Copper sheathing may have paid for itself in a single voyage, even though it was usually good for several. By the 1790s few slave ships, even if making only a single voyage, were uncoppered. These results confirm that copper sheathing was one of the major improvements in shipping productivity before the use of iron and steam in the mid-nineteenth century.

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The Resource Curse: A Statistical Mirage?

Alexander James
Journal of Development Economics, May 2015, Pages 55–63

Abstract:
A surprising feature of resource-rich economies is slow growth. It is often argued that natural-resource production impedes development by creating market or institutional failures. This paper establishes an alternative explanation — a slow-growing resource sector. A declining resource sector is disproportionately reflected in resource-dependent countries. Additionally, there is little evidence that resource dependence impedes growth in non-resource sectors. More generally, this paper illustrates the importance of considering industry composition in cross-country growth regressions.

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How Dynamics of Urbanization Affect Physical and Mental Health in Urban China

Juan Chen et al.
China Quarterly, December 2014, Pages 988-1011

Abstract:
Using a 2011 national survey of urban residents, irrespective of their official hukou status, and the 2000–2009 night-time light data from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Operational Linescan System (DMSP-OLS), this paper goes beyond the simple dichotomy of migrant versus non-migrant or rural versus urban hukou to disentangle the processes of urbanization and migration and their complex associations with health, and assesses the impact of various levels and speed of urbanization on the physical and mental health of current residents in a city or town. By disaggregating urbanization into three discrete dimensions at sub-provincial levels, we find that while a higher absolute level of urbanization at the county level negatively impacted self-reported physical health, faster and accelerating urbanization had a positive impact which could be attributed to the demand-pull effect underlying the healthy migrant phenomenon. By contrast, all three dimensions of urbanization were associated with greater depressive distress and thus had an adverse effect on residents' mental health. Beyond demonstrating how variation in the process and location of urbanization affects individual health, we also illustrate more broadly the value of modelling locational parameters in analyses of individual outcomes based on national samples.

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Does intelligence explain the association between generalized trust and economic development?

Noah Carl
Intelligence, November–December 2014, Pages 83–92

Abstract:
Both generalized trust and intelligence are correlated with economic development. However, recent research has shown that trust and intelligence are themselves correlated, both across countries and among individuals. Theory suggests that causality runs from intelligence to trust at the individual level, which raises the possibility that the association between trust and development is explained by intelligence. Indeed, intelligence may cause both trust and development. Alternatively, development may lead to higher intelligence, which in turn gives rise to greater trust. Note that intelligence may cause trust not only because individuals with higher intelligence tend to report greater trust, but also because such individuals tend to be more trustworthy. This study analyzes data on trust, intelligence and economic development for 15 Spanish regions, 20 Italian regions, 50 US states, and 107 countries. In all four domains, there is a statistically significant positive relationship between trust and intelligence (r = .74, r = .74, r = .72 and r = .50, respectively). Moreover, partial correlations suggest that intelligence accounts for some or all of the association between trust and development in at least two out of the four domains.

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The Achaemenid Empire’s Contributions to Public Administration

Joshua Steinfeld
International Journal of Public Administration, forthcoming

Abstract:
The Achaemenid Empire established the world’s first complex administrative system of government in 559 B.C. There are numerous administrative accomplishments by the Achaemenids that have not successfully been duplicated in modern times, despite the Pony Express, the Suez Canal, and perfected recycling systems. Political debate, formal rewards systems, federal agencies, and integrated federal and provincial levels of government among a culturally diverse population were characteristic of the trailblazing Achaemenid Empire. Furthermore, administrative ideologies such as government’s responsibility to serve the public and provide equal rights were incorporated first by Cyrus the Great’s Human Rights Charter.

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Empirical Linkages between Good Government and National Well-being

John Helliwell et al.
NBER Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
This paper first reviews existing studies of the links between good governance and subjective well-being. It then brings together the largest available sets of national-level measures of the quality of governance to assess the extent to which they contribute to explaining the levels and changes in life evaluations in 157 countries over the years 2005-2012, using data from the Gallup World Poll. The results show not just that people are more satisfied with their lives in countries with better governance quality, but also that actual changes in governance quality since 2005 have led to large changes in the quality of life. For example, the ten-most-improved countries, in terms of delivery quality changes between 2005 and 2012, when compared to the ten countries with most worsened delivery quality, are estimated to have thereby increased average life evaluations by as much as would be produced by a 40% increase in per capita incomes. The results also confirm earlier findings that the delivery quality of government services generally dominates democratic quality in supporting better lives. The situation changes as development proceeds, with democratic quality having a positive influence among countries that have already achieved higher quality of service delivery.

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How sustainable is the macroeconomic impact of foreign aid?

Simon Feeny & Tim Fry
Journal of Policy Modeling, November–December 2014, Pages 1066–1081

Abstract:
This paper examines how long the impact of foreign aid on growth lasts in recipient countries. An econometric technique is adopted which recognises that the impact of aid in the current year is a function not just of the current aid received but also of the aid received in previous years. Results indicate that foreign aid has a half-life of two years. In other words, half of the total impact of aid on growth is experienced within two years of its disbursement. Aid loans are found to have longer half-lives than their grant counterparts. Policy implications are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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