TEXT SIZE A A A

 

Findings Banner

Monday, March 27, 2017

Stakeholders

Social Capital, Trust, and Firm Performance: The Value of Corporate Social Responsibility during the Financial Crisis

Karl Lins, Henri Servaes & Ane Tamayo

Journal of Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
During the 2008 to 2009 financial crisis, firms with high social capital, as measured by corporate social responsibility (CSR) intensity, had stock returns that were four to seven percentage points higher than firms with low social capital. High-CSR firms also experienced higher profitability, growth, and sales per employee relative to low-CSR firms, and they raised more debt. This evidence suggests that the trust between a firm and both its stakeholders and investors, built through investments in social capital, pays off when the overall level of trust in corporations and markets suffers a negative shock.

---------------------

The Adverse Effect of Information on Governance and Leverage

Christian Laux, Gyöngyi Lóránth & Alan Morrison

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study the effect that internal information systems have on a firm’s leverage and corporate governance choices. Information systems lower governance costs by facilitating more targeted interventions. But they also generate asymmetric information between firms and their investors. As a result, firms may attempt to signal their superior quality by assuming more leverage. In some circumstances, this can reduce governance incentives and result in inferior outcomes. Investors anticipate this effect, and it renders information systems inefficient.

---------------------

Does Corporate Social Responsibility Benefit Society?

Jun Li & Di (Andrew) Wu

University of Michigan Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
In short, it depends on the ownership type. We construct an event-based outcome measure of firm-level environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impact for public and private firms globally from 2007 to 2015 using data from RepRisk. Then, we measure the societal impact of corporate social responsibility (CSR) engagements using participation in the United Nations Global Compact as a proxy. We demonstrate a striking difference between public and private firms: while private firms significantly reduce their negative ESG incident levels after CSR engagements, public firms fail to do so. We attribute this difference to the conflicts of interest between shareholders and stakeholders, which are more pronounced in public firms than private firms. We empirically validate this interpretation through examination of scenarios with varying levels of conflict intensity. We find that for issues types with higher conflict intensity such as collective bargaining, supply-chain-related issues, and controversial products and services, the performance gap between public and private firms is even more severe. For issue types with lower conflict intensity such as tax evasion, executive compensation, and overuse and wasting of resources, the performance gap is smaller and even public companies may do better post-commitment. Moreover, the performance gap is also wider for upstream firms than for downstream firms in supply chains. We also rule out a host of alternative interpretations related to time trends and endogeneity issues. Our results show that existing CSR engagements may not necessarily lead to better societal outcomes, and that policy interventions aimed at aligning the interests of different parties can potentially improve the overall outcome.

---------------------

The Delaware Trap: An Empirical Study of Incorporation Decisions

Robert Anderson

Pepperdine University Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
One of the most enduring debates in corporate law centers on why Delaware has become the dominant state in the market for corporate charters. Traditionally, two perspectives dominated the debate, the “race to the top” perspective that sees competition among states as driving legal rules toward efficiency and the “race to the bottom” perspective that sees competition among states as driving legal rules toward the interests of corporate managers. The two dominant perspectives have struggled to explain why approximately half of companies incorporate in Delaware, while the other half incorporate in their home states. Whether the choices are attributable to the quality of state law or to characteristics of the companies themselves or both has given rise to a large, but inconclusive empirical literature. This Article uses a large dataset of corporate financings to shed new light on this mystery and uncovers strong evidence that some of the strongest factors in incorporation choice are factors unrelated to either the quality of state law or the characteristics of individual companies. Instead, the data strongly suggest that demographic markers of sophistication, such as choice of law firm and headquarters location, predict the jurisdictional choice about as well as state law or the business attributes of companies. Companies with more demographic markers of sophistication tend to choose Delaware incorporation, and companies with fewer demographic markers of sophistication tend to choose home-state incorporation. The finding persists even when other attributes of the company are controlled for, such as its industry classification, the amount of money raised, or whether the company is public or private. Indeed, the sophistication factors arguably predict Delaware incorporation as well or better than any factors documented in the vast literature on state competition for corporate charters. The findings have important implications for the state “race-to-the-top” debate in corporate law. At a minimum the results in this Article make it clear that the choice of legal representation is an important missing variable in models of incorporation decisions. The fact that the choice of law firms drives the jurisdictional choice has far broader implications. If law firms drive the jurisdictional choice they may steer companies toward states that serve the law firms’ own interests without regard to the quality of legal rules or the needs of the client. When the state chosen is Delaware, as it often is, there are few alternative jurisdictions that shareholders and managers can agree on. As a result, companies inadvertently fall into a “governance trap” from which reincorporation out of state is nearly impossible. This interpretation would suggest that Delaware’s carefully calibrated positioning in the charter market has largely eliminated meaningful competition among the states for the quality of corporate law.

---------------------

The Private Ordering Solution to Multiforum Shareholder Litigation

Roberta Romano & Sarath Sanga

Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, March 2017, Pages 31–78

Abstract:
This article analyzes a private ordering solution to multiforum shareholder litigation: exclusive forum provisions in corporate charters and bylaws. These provisions require that all corporate-law-related disputes be brought in a single forum, typically a court in the statutory domicile. Using hand-collected data on the 746 U.S. public corporations that have adopted the provision, we examine what drives the growth in these provisions and whether, as some critics contend, their adoption reflects managerial opportunism. We find that nearly all new Delaware corporations adopt the provision at the IPO stage, and that the transition from zero to near-universal IPO adoption over 2007–2014 is driven by law firms. Characteristics of individual companies appear to play little or no role in adoption decisions. Instead, the pattern of adoption follows what can be described as a light-switch model, in which law firms suddenly switch from never adopting to always adopting the provision in the IPOs they advise. For post-IPO (or “midstream”) adoptions, we compare corporate governance features of adopters to a matched sample of nonadopters to test the hypothesis that midstream bylaw adoption reflects managerial opportunism. If the hypothesis were correct, then we would expect to find that the midstream adopters exhibit poor corporate governance compared to nonadopters (using the metrics of good governance practices as identified by critics of the provisions). We find, however, that there are either no significant differences in governance or that it is adopters that have higher-quality governance features. We also find no significant differences in governance and ownership structures between firms whose boards adopt the provisions as bylaws and those who obtain shareholder approval. The absence of significant differences across firms using disparate adoption procedures suggests that the method of adopting an exclusive forum provision — whether with or without shareholder approval — should not be a matter of import for investors.

---------------------

Credit Default Swaps, Exacting Creditors and Corporate Liquidity Management

Marti Subrahmanyam, Dragon Yongjun Tang & Sarah Qian Wang

Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate the liquidity management of firms following the inception of credit default swaps (CDS) markets on their debt, which allow hedging and speculative trading on credit risk to be carried out by creditors and other parties. We find that reference firms hold more cash after CDS trading commences on their debt. The increase in cash holdings is more pronounced for CDS firms that do not pay dividends and have a higher marginal value of liquidity. For CDS firms with higher cash flow volatility, these increased cash holdings do not entail higher leverage. Overall, our findings are consistent with the view that CDS-referenced firms adopt more conservative liquidity policies to avoid negotiations with more exacting creditors.

---------------------

CEO Inside Debt Incentives and Corporate Tax Sheltering

Sabrina Chi, Shawn Huang & Juan Manuel Sanchez

Journal of Accounting Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines the relation between CEO inside debt holdings (pension benefits and deferred compensation) and corporate tax sheltering. Because inside debt holdings are generally unsecured and unfunded liabilities of the firm, CEOs are exposed to risk similar to that faced by outside creditors. As such, theory (Jensen and Meckling [1976]) suggests that inside debt holdings negatively impact CEO risk-appetite. To the extent that corporate tax shelters will likely result in high cash flow volatility in the future, we expect that inside debt holdings will curb CEOs from engaging in tax shelter transactions. Consistent with the prediction, we document a negative association between CEO inside debt holdings and tax sheltering. Additional analyses suggest that the effect of inside debt on tax sheltering is more (less) pronounced in the presence of high default risks and liquidity threats (cash-out options in pension packages). Overall, our results highlight the importance of investigating the implication of CEO debt-like compensation for corporate tax policies.

---------------------

Short Selling Governance and Intrafirm Resource Allocation

James Albertus et al.

Carnegie Mellon University Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
We exploit Regulation SHO as a natural experiment to investigate the effects of short selling threats on intrafirm capital allocation. Using detailed data on the foreign operations of multinationals, we find that the marginal effect on aggregate investment masks a significant effect on intrafirm reallocation. Managers reallocate investment and R&D expenditures across borders toward productive subsidiaries and R&D centers, respectively. Treated firms shifted 30% more capital toward foreign subsidiaries with strong recent performance. These results provide new evidence on the scope and potential benefits of governance by short sellers and demonstrate the importance of cross-border spillovers of capital markets regulation.

---------------------

The Limitations of Stock Market Efficiency: Price Informativeness and CEO Turnover

Gary Gorton, Lixin Huang & Qiang Kang

Review of Finance, March 2017, Pages 153-200

Abstract:
There is a tenuous link between market efficiency and economic efficiency in that stock prices are more informative when the information has less social value. We investigate this link in the context of CEO turnover. Our theoretical model predicts that, when the board’s monitoring intensity and the informed trader’s information decision are jointly endogenized, stock price informativeness is negatively related to the board’s monitoring effort. Our empirical tests provide supporting evidence for this negative effect. Moreover, using the passage of the Sarbanes–Oxley Act (SOX) as a quasi-natural experiment, we find that SOX, while strengthening corporate governance, has a negative effect on stock price informativeness, especially among firms with complex organizational structures.

---------------------

Insider Trading and the Short-Swing Profit Rule

Stephen Lenkey

Journal of Economic Theory, May 2017, Pages 517–545

Abstract:
The short-swing profit rule is a federal statute that requires insiders to forfeit any trading profit earned from a combined purchase and sale that occurs within a six-month period. Using a multi-period strategic rational expectations equilibrium framework, I demonstrate that the rule tends to reduce both the amount of insider trading and the amount of profit earned by an informed insider from information-based trades because the rule imposes a constraint on the insider's dynamic trading strategy. Nevertheless, the rule increases the insider's welfare at the expense of uninformed investors (outsiders) because the rule inhibits risk sharing, which leads to an ex ante wealth transfer from outsiders to the insider.

---------------------

Have You Been Served? Extending the Relationship Between Corporate Social Responsibility and Lawsuits

Michael Barnett, Julia Hartmann & Robert Salomon

Academy of Management Discoveries, forthcoming

Abstract:
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been shown to provide insurance-like protection that buffers firms from losses when they are sued. But does CSR also buffer firms from being sued? We conduct a study of 408 U.S. firms over the period 2002 to 2011 and find that, indeed, firms with greater CSR were less likely to be sued. Yet despite suffering fewer lawsuits, we also find that firms with greater CSR were more likely to set aside provisions for litigation. Together, these findings suggest that CSR's buffering benefits may extend beyond just helping firms to suffer less harm from negative events, to include helping to protect firms from suffering negative events in the first place. Moreover, high CSR firm's tendency toward transparency may be what drives the extension of these protective benefits. We call for more research on the scope and conditions under which CSR buffers firms from harm.

---------------------

Institutional Trading and Hedge Fund Activism

Nickolay Gantchev & Chotibhak Jotikasthira

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates the role of institutional trading in the emergence of hedge fund activism — an important corporate governance mechanism. We demonstrate that institutional sales raise a firm’s probability of becoming an activist target. Furthermore, by exploiting the funding circumstances of individual institutions, we establish that such effects occur through a liquidity channel, i.e., the activist camouflages his purchases among other institutions’ liquidity sales. Additional evidence supports our conclusion. First, activist purchases closely track institutional sales at the daily frequency. Second, such synchronicity is stronger among targets with lower expected monitoring benefits, suggesting that gains from trading with other institutions supplement these benefits in the activist’s targeting decision. Finally, we find that institutional sales accelerate the timing of a campaign at firms already followed by activists rather than attract attention to unlikely targets. Taken together, our findings offer a novel empirical perspective on the liquidity theories of activism; while activists screen firms on the basis of fundamentals, they pick specific targets at a particular time by exploiting institutional liquidity shocks.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Losing it

The Role of Social Closeness During Tape Stripping to Facilitate Skin Barrier Recovery: Preliminary Findings

Hayley Robinson et al.

Health Psychology, forthcoming

Method: Seventy-two healthy adults were randomized to either a social closeness condition where participants completed a relationship-building task and tape stripping in pairs or a control condition where they completed tape stripping alone. Skin barrier recovery was measured using transepidermal water loss. Salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase were collected at four time points as markers of the endocrine and autonomic stress response.

Results: Social closeness had a beneficial effect on skin barrier recovery compared to the control condition, t(54) = 2.86, p = .006, r = .36. Social closeness significantly reduced self-reported stress. The effects of the intervention on skin barrier recovery were moderated by self-reported stress reduction (p = .035). There were no significant differences in cortisol between groups, but alpha-amylase increased significantly more from baseline to after tape stripping in the control group compared to the intervention group.

Conclusions: This is the first study to show that social closeness with a person going through a similar unfamiliar procedure can positively influence wound healing. Future research needs to replicate these findings in other wound types and in clinical settings.

---------------------

The harder they fall? Sex and race/ethnic specific suicide rates in the U.S. foreclosure crisis

Jason Houle & Michael Light

Social Science & Medicine, May 2017, Pages 114-124

Abstract:
Previous work shows suicide rates increase during economic recessions, but little research has examined the extent to which the foreclosure crisis - a unique aspect of the Great Recession - has contributed to disparities in rising suicide rates by race and sex. We develop and test two competing hypotheses regarding the association between foreclosures and race by sex specific suicide rates. We link foreclosure data (RealtyTrac) and suicide data (CDC) from 174 metropolitan areas from 2005 to 2010 (1044 MSA-year observations) and find that - net of time invariant unobserved between-metro area differences, national time trends, and time-varying confounders - a rise in the foreclosure rate is associated with a marginal increase in suicide, but this main effect masks considerable heterogeneity across groups. The association is particularly strong for white males, and weaker or non-existent for other race by sex groups.

---------------------

The Economic Evaluation of Times Causes Stress

Jeffrey Pfeffer & Dana Carney

Academy of Management Discoveries, forthcoming

Abstract:
Psychological stress can cause decreases in well-being, increases in disease, and faster cellular death. Because the workplace is one prominent source of stress, it is both practically and theoretically useful to comprehensively understand which workplace practices may be stress-inducing. In two experiments, we found that people nudged to be in an "economic mindset" (who thought of time in terms of money while working on a realistic "at work" task) self-reported higher levels of psychological stress (Experiments 1 and 2) and also evidenced more physiological stress - levels of salivary cortisol were 23.53% higher (Experiment 2) - compared to participants whose monetary value of time was not made chronically salient. We suggest several possible mechanisms through which the economic evaluation of time may cause stress. A commodified view of time can increase impatience and make someone feel pressured to "use time wisely. And thinking of time like money can diminish the meaning of a person's work and psychological attachment to the job, thereby making tasks more stressful. Thus, increasingly common work arrangements that commodify time may increase stress.

---------------------

Acute Aerobic Exercise Hastens Emotional Recovery From a Subsequent Stressor

Emily Bernstein & Richard McNally

Health Psychology, forthcoming

Method: All of the participants (n = 95) completed 3 laboratory visits, each including 1 of 3 activities (i.e., cycling, resting, stretching), tests of working memory and attentional control, and an experimental stressor. Self-reported rumination after the stressor and the experience of positive and negative emotions throughout the study were recorded.

Results: In this within-subjects paradigm, as expected, higher rumination in response to the stressor predicted more persistent negative emotion afterward; this effect was attenuated only by prior acute aerobic exercise, in this case, cycling, both 5 min and 15 min poststressor. This effect was unrelated to physical fitness or cognitive performance. Physical fitness level did predict greater attentional control and the capacity to update working memory.

Conclusion: Acute aerobic exercise may facilitate subjective emotional recovery from a subsequent stressor and improve emotional flexibility.

---------------------

Treating major depression with yoga: A prospective, randomized, controlled pilot trial

Sudha Prathikanti et al.

PLoS ONE, March 2017

Methods: Investigators recruited 38 adults in San Francisco meeting criteria for major depression of mild-to-moderate severity, per structured psychiatric interview and scores of 14-28 on Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI). At screening, individuals engaged in psychotherapy, antidepressant pharmacotherapy, herbal or nutraceutical mood therapies, or mind-body practices were excluded. Participants were 68% female, with mean age 43.4 years (SD = 14.8, range = 22-72), and mean BDI score 22.4 (SD = 4.5). Twenty participants were randomized to 90-minute hatha yoga practice groups twice weekly for 8 weeks. Eighteen participants were randomized to 90-minute attention control education groups twice weekly for 8 weeks. Certified yoga instructors delivered both interventions at a university clinic. Primary outcome was depression severity, measured by BDI scores every 2 weeks from baseline to 8 weeks. Secondary outcomes were self-efficacy and self-esteem, measured by scores on the General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSES) and Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES) at baseline and at 8 weeks.

Results: In intent-to-treat analysis, yoga participants exhibited significantly greater 8-week decline in BDI scores than controls (p-value = 0.034). In sub-analyses of participants completing final 8-week measures, yoga participants were more likely to achieve remission, defined per final BDI score ? 9 (p-value = 0.018). Effect size of yoga in reducing BDI scores was large, per Cohen's d = -0.96 [95%CI, -1.81 to -0.12]. Intervention groups did not differ significantly in 8-week change scores for either the GSES or RSES.

Conclusion: In adults with mild-to-moderate major depression, an 8-week hatha yoga intervention resulted in statistically and clinically significant reductions in depression severity.

---------------------

When Less is More: Effects of the Availability of Strategic Options on Regulating Negative Emotions

Yochanan Bigman, Gal Sheppes & Maya Tamir

Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research in several domains suggests that having strategic options is not always beneficial. In this paper, we tested whether having strategic options (vs. not) is helpful or harmful for regulating negative emotions. In 5 studies (N = 151) participants were presented with 1 or more strategic options prior to watching aversive images and using the selected strategic option. Across studies, we found that people reported less intense negative emotions when the strategy they used to regulate their emotions was presented as a single option, rather than as 1 of several options. This was regardless of whether people could choose between the options (Studies 3-5) or not (Studies 1, 2, and 4), and specific to negative (but not neutral) images (Study 5). A sixth study addressed an explanation based on demand characteristics, showing that participants expected to feel more positive when having more than 1 option. The findings indicate that having strategic options for regulating negative emotions can sometimes be costly.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, March 25, 2017

It's a boy or girl

Childhood Gender-Typed Behavior and Adolescent Sexual Orientation: A Longitudinal Population-Based Study

Gu Li, Karson Kung & Melissa Hines

Developmental Psychology, April 2017, Pages 764-777

Abstract:
Lesbian and gay individuals have been reported to show more interest in other-sex, and/or less interest in same-sex, toys, playmates, and activities in childhood than heterosexual counterparts. Yet, most of the relevant evidence comes from retrospective studies or from prospective studies of clinically referred, extremely gender nonconforming children. In addition, findings are mixed regarding the relation between childhood gender-typed behavior and the later sexual orientation spectrum from exclusively heterosexual to exclusively lesbian/gay. The current study drew a sample (2,428 girls and 2,169 boys) from a population-based longitudinal study, and found that the levels of gender-typed behavior at ages 3.5 and 4.75 years, although less so at age 2.5 years, significantly and consistently predicted adolescents’ sexual orientation at age 15 years, both when sexual orientation was conceptualized as 2 groups or as a spectrum. In addition, within-individual change in gender-typed behavior during the preschool years significantly related to adolescent sexual orientation, especially in boys. These results suggest that the factors contributing to the link between childhood gender-typed behavior and sexual orientation emerge during early development. Some of those factors are likely to be nonsocial, because nonheterosexual individuals appear to diverge from gender norms regardless of social encouragement to conform to gender roles.

---------------------

Difference-in-Differences Analysis of the Association Between State Same-Sex Marriage Policies and Adolescent Suicide Attempts

Julia Raifman et al.

JAMA Pediatrics, forthcoming

Design, Setting, and Participants: This study used state-level Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) data from January 1, 1999, to December 31, 2015, which are weighted to be representative of each state that has participation in the survey greater than 60%. A difference-in-differences analysis compared changes in suicide attempts among all public high school students before and after implementation of state policies in 32 states permitting same-sex marriage with year-to-year changes in suicide attempts among high school students in 15 states without policies permitting same-sex marriage. Linear regression was used to control for state, age, sex, race/ethnicity, and year, with Taylor series linearized standard errors clustered by state and classroom. In a secondary analysis among students who are sexual minorities, we included an interaction between sexual minority identity and living in a state that had implemented same-sex marriage policies.

Results: Among the 762 678 students (mean [SD] age, 16.0 [1.2] years; 366 063 males and 396 615 females) who participated in the YRBSS between 1999 and 2015, a weighted 8.6% of all high school students and 28.5% of 231 413 students who identified as sexual minorities reported suicide attempts before implementation of same-sex marriage policies. Same-sex marriage policies were associated with a 0.6–percentage point (95% CI, –1.2 to –0.01 percentage points) reduction in suicide attempts, representing a 7% relative reduction in the proportion of high school students attempting suicide owing to same-sex marriage implementation. The association was concentrated among students who were sexual minorities.

Conclusions and Relevance: State same-sex marriage policies were associated with a reduction in the proportion of high school students reporting suicide attempts, providing empirical evidence for an association between same-sex marriage policies and mental health outcomes.

---------------------

The Interaction of Same-Sex Marriage Access With Sexual Minority Identity on Mental Health and Subjective Wellbeing

Alexander Tatum

Journal of Homosexuality, May 2017, Pages 638-653

Abstract:
Previous psychological and public health research has highlighted the impact of legal recognition of same-sex relationships on individual identity and mental health. Using a sample of U.S. sexual minority (N = 313) and heterosexual (N = 214) adults, participants completed a battery of mental health inventories prior to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage. Analyses of covariance (ANCOVAs) examining identity revealed sexual minority participants living in states where same-sex marriage was banned experienced significantly higher levels of internalized homonegativity than sexual minority participants living in states where same-sex marriage was legal, even after controlling for state-level political climate. Mental health ANCOVAs revealed sexual minority participants residing in states without same-sex marriage experienced greater anxiety and lower subjective wellbeing compared to sexual minority participants residing in states with same-sex marriage and heterosexual participants residing in states with or without same-sex marriage. Implications for public policy and future research directions are discussed.

---------------------

An Endocrine Basis for Tomboy Identity: The Second-to-Fourth Digit Ratio (2D:4D) in “Tomboys”

Beth Atkinson, Tom Smulders & Joel Wallenberg

Psychoneuroendocrinology, May 2017, Pages 9–12

Abstract:
This paper investigates the relationship between organizational effects of pre-natal testosterone and the use of “tomboy” as a descriptor for young women. We show in a sample of 44 women that a woman's right hand 2D:4D ratio is a significant predictor of whether they will be labeled as a “tomboy”, with a decrease in 2D:4D ratio corresponding to an increase in the probability of being called “tomboy”. Taking the right hand 2D:4D ratio as a proxy for the abundance of testosterone in the early life hormonal milieu, we propose that organizing effects of higher pre-natal T lead to increased masculine-typical behavior in childhood, which increases the likelihood some women will be referred to as tomboys. We suggest that the increase in masculine-typical behaviors is a result of how the organizing effects of T on the brain interact with children's social modeling of male-coded and female-coded behaviors.

---------------------

Intimate partner support: A comparison of gay, lesbian, and heterosexual relationships

Lillian Ellis & Mark Davis

Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this investigation, intimate partner support, relationship satisfaction, and separation proneness were assessed for four types of people: men in a relationship with a woman (MRW), men in a relationship with a man (MRM), women in a relationship with a man (WRM), and women in a relationship with a woman (WRW). Men and women in same-sex relationships received more support, were more satisfied, and reported fewer thoughts of separating than their counterparts in opposite-sex relationships. The effect of relationship type on satisfaction was not significant once the amount of received support was controlled. The implications of these findings for understanding the support process in same-sex relationships are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, March 24, 2017

Looking for the next election

Taste-Based Discrimination Against Nonwhite Political Candidates: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Evan Soltas & David Broockman

Stanford Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
We exploit a natural experiment to study voter taste-based discrimination against nonwhite political candidates. In Illinois Republican presidential primary elections, voters do not vote for presidential candidates directly. Instead, they vote delegate-by-delegate for delegate candidates listed as bound to vote for particular presidential candidates at the Republican nominating convention. To maximize their support for their preferred presidential candidate, voters must vote for all that candidate’s delegates. However, some delegates’ names imply they are not white. Incentives for statistical discrimination against nonwhite delegates are negligible, as delegates have effectively no discretion, and taste-based discrimination against them is costly, as it undermines voters’ preferred presidential candidates. Examining within-presidential-candidate variation in delegate vote totals in primaries from 2000–2016, we estimate that about 10 percent of voters do not vote for their preferred presidential candidate’s delegates who have names that indicate the delegates are nonwhite, indicating that a considerable share of voters act upon racially-discriminatory tastes. This finding is robust to multiple methods for measuring delegate race, to controls for voters’ possible prior information about delegates, to ballot order, and to other possible confounds we consider. Heterogeneity across candidates and geographies is also broadly consistent with taste-based theories.

---------------------

Which Candidates Can Be Mavericks? The Effects of Issue Disagreement and Gender on Candidate Evaluations

Emily Vraga

Politics & Policy, February 2017, Pages 4–30

Abstract:
As approval ratings of the U.S. Congress remain depressed, many candidates present themselves as mavericks, willing to counter their party on issues. Yet disagreeing with one's party can be a risky decision and one that is not equally viable for all politicians. In particular, female candidates often face a hostile political climate that privileges “masculine” traits over feminine traits, which may tie female candidates to their party's platform. An experimental study manipulating issue disagreement for a female versus male candidate demonstrates that the female candidate consistently faces harsher penalties in terms of candidate evaluations and voting intentions for disagreeing with her party on multiple issues. Implications for candidate behavior, campaign strategies, and political decision making are discussed.

---------------------

Presidential Debates in the Age of Partisan Media: A Field Experiment

Kimberly Gross, Ethan Porter & Thomas Wood

George Washington University Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
To investigate media effects in political campaigns, we administered a field experiment around the first general election presidential debate of 2016. In this three-wave study, subjects were randomly incentivized to watch the debate and post-debate television coverage on Fox News or MSNBC. We find that post-debate coverage has strong effects on performance evaluations, with subjects' perceptions moving in the direction of the partisan slant of the channel they were assigned to watch on. Though these effects evolve over time, with subjects coming to express beliefs more in line with the media consensus, they do not disappear altogether. Moderate partisans were still affected by the post-debate coverage a week later. The effects we observe are limited to debate evaluations; at no point do we observe partisan media affecting vote choice. Our results offer evidence that media effects can persist over time, but are confined to candidate evaluations.

---------------------

Ideological Heterogeneity and the Rise of Donald Trump

Edward Carmines, Michael Ensley & Michael Wagner

The Forum, February 2017, Pages 385–397

Abstract:

In the days after the 2016 election, a variety of explanations has been offered to explain Donald Trump’s unique ascendancy in American politics. Scholars have discussed Trump’s appeal to rural voters, his hybrid media campaign strategy, shifts in voter turnout, Hillary Clinton’s campaign advertising strategy, economic anxiety, differences in sexist and racist attitudes among Trump voters and so forth. Here, we add another key factor to the conversation: Trump’s appeal to a smaller, often ignored, segment of the electorate: populist voters. Building upon our previous work – demonstrating that while American political elites compete across a single dimension of conflict, the American people organize their attitudes around two distinct dimensions, one economic and one social – we use 2008 American National Elections Study (ANES) data and 2016 ANES primary election data to show that populist support for Trump, and nationalist policies themselves, help us to understand how Trump captured the Republican nomination and the White House.

---------------------

Matching Pennies on the Campaign Trail: An Empirical Study of Senate Elections and Media Coverage

Camilo García-Jimeno & Pinar Yildirim

NBER Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
We study the strategic interaction between the media and Senate candidates during elections. While the media is instrumental for candidates to communicate with voters, candidates and media outlets have conflicting preferences over the contents of the reporting. In competitive electoral environments such as most US Senate races, this can lead to a strategic environment resembling a matching pennies game. Based on this observation, we develop a model of bipartisan races where media outlets report about candidates, and candidates make decisions on the type of constituencies to target with their statements along the campaign trail. We develop a methodology to classify news content as suggestive of the target audience of candidate speech, and show how data on media reports and poll results, together with the behavioral implications of the model, can be used to estimate its parameters. We implement this methodology on US Senatorial races for the period 1980-2012, and find that Democratic candidates have stronger incentives to target their messages towards turning out their core supporters than Republicans. We also find that the cost in swing-voter support from targeting core supporters is larger for Democrats than for Republicans. These effects balance each other, making media outlets willing to cover candidates from both parties at similar rates.

---------------------

Cumulative and Long-Term Campaign Advertising Effects on Trust and Talk

Melissa Gotlieb et al.

International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Spring 2017, Pages 1-22

Abstract:
Most studies of political advertising have failed to consider that advertising effects may build up across multiple election seasons or extend past Election Day. This study investigates the short-term and long-term effects of both same-cycle and multi-cycle exposure to campaign advertising on political and social trust and modes of political talk. Using survey data and campaign advertising data, we test the effects of ad volume and ad negativity. We find effects of both same-cycle and cumulative exposure to advertising. Some are fleeting effects, but the majority of them are sustained or sleeper effects, emerging long after the campaign has ended. These results suggest that scholars should extend their focus beyond same-cycle effects measured during or just after a single campaign.

---------------------

Metaphorical Accounting: How Framing the Federal Budget Like a Household's Affects Voting Intentions

Paul Thibodeau & Stephen Flusberg

Cognitive Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Political discourse is saturated with metaphor, but evidence for the persuasive power of this language has been hard to come by. We addressed this issue by investigating whether voting intentions were affected by implicit mappings suggested by a metaphorically framed message, drawing on a real-world example of political rhetoric about the federal budget. In the first experiment, the federal budget was framed as similar to or different from a household budget, though the information participants received was identical in both conditions. When the federal budget was described as similar to a household's, people considered the personal finances of a presidential candidate more relevant — a finding we replicated in a larger, pre-registered study. In a follow-up experiment, we presented participants with a more explicit rhetorical argument and found a similar effect, moderated by political affiliation. These studies illuminate how metaphorical comparison affects cognition for important real-world issues, sometimes in unintended ways.

---------------------

Implicit Candidate-Trait Associations in Political Campaigns

Aleksander Ksiazkiewicz, Joseph Vitriol & Christina Farhart

Political Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
While the study of political attitudes has incorporated implicit processes in its theoretical models, the predominant approach to candidate-trait perception focuses exclusively on explicit processes. Our novel, dual-process approach to candidate perception sees voters as holding both conscious, explicit impressions of candidate traits and automatic, implicit candidate-trait associations that cannot be measured using traditional self-report techniques. We examine implicit candidate-trait associations for the first time using data from a three-wave online panel conducted in the last month of the 2012 U.S. presidential election. First, we demonstrate that implicit candidate-trait associations exist. Second, we show that implicit associations of warmth and competence with the candidates predict explicit candidate evaluations, economic evaluations, and vote choice, above and beyond conventional political science controls and explicit trait perceptions. Finally, we find that these effects are strongest among nonpartisans and partisans with conflicted feelings about their party's nominee. We suggest future directions for implicit political cognition research, including trait perception.

---------------------

The racialization of electoral fairness in the 2008 and 2012 United States presidential elections

Jacob Appleby & Christopher Federico

Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
President Obama’s historic status as the nation’s first African American president has led to a “spillover” of racialization in the form of a strengthened relationship between racial attitudes and beliefs and judgments about policies he is associated with. We argue that even basic perceptions of the fairness of the presidential election became racialized in 2008 and 2012. Consistent with this, data from two national surveys revealed that Whites high in racial resentment and racial-stereotype endorsement were less likely to believe the 2008 and 2012 elections were conducted fairly, especially among those for whom the election result was unwelcome, that is, Republicans and conservatives. We find that this result is specific to years that Obama was on the ballot, suggesting a unique role for Obama’s candidacy in boosting the impact of racial attitudes and beliefs.

---------------------

Memory for Positive and Negative Political TV Ads: The Role of Partisanship and Gamma Power

Alyssa Morey

Political Communication, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite generating widespread contempt, political TV ads play an important informational role in the lives of citizens. This study examines effects of Ad Type (Positive, Negative, and Comparison) on recognition memory for candidate issue positions. Potential moderators (Ad Sponsor Partisanship X Viewer Partisanship, Ad Type X Viewer Ideology, Ad Type X Viewer Partisanship) of political ad memory are explored, and electroencephalography (EEG) recordings are used to examine whether semantic processing (indexed as brain activity in the gamma band frequency range) mediates main or moderated effects of Ad Type on Memory. Results reveal a significant interaction between Ad Type and Partisanship, with Republicans remembering more from positive relative to negative ads (significant), and Democrats remembering more from negative ads (marginally significant). A direct effect of Gamma on Memory highlights the considerable potential that EEG (in general) and the gamma frequency band (in particular) may hold for the study of message processing.

---------------------

Which Women Can Run? Gender, Partisanship, and Candidate Donor Networks

Danielle Thomsen & Michele Swers

Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent scholarship rejects campaign finance as a cause of women’s underrepresentation in Congress because women raise as much money as men running in similar races. We argue that campaign finance still impacts which women can make a run for office because candidates have to build their own donor networks. Using a unique dataset that includes primary and general election candidates for the U.S. House in 2010 and 2012, we examine the gender composition of candidates’ donor networks. We find that candidates’ ideological views are very important to contributors. Donors, particularly Democrats, also exhibit a gender affinity effect in which men give more to male candidates and women favor female candidates. Furthermore, female Democratic donors seem to value the election of women, especially liberal Democratic women, over other traditional predictors of giving, such as incumbency and competitiveness. Meanwhile, Republican male and female donors do not focus on candidate gender, and female Republican donors prefer conservative candidates. Thus, the existing partisan donor pools are friendlier to the emergence of liberal female Democrats than Republican women.

---------------------

Social Desirability Bias in the 2016 Presidential Election

Samara Klar, Christopher Weber & Yanna Krupnikov

The Forum, February 2017, Pages 433–443

Abstract:
Partisanship is a stable trait but expressions of partisan preferences can vary according to social context. When particular preferences become socially undesirable, some individuals refrain from expressing them in public, even in relatively anonymous settings such as surveys and polls. In this study, we rely on the psychological trait of self-monitoring to show that Americans who are more likely to adjust their behaviors to comply with social norms (i.e. high self-monitors) were less likely to express support for Donald Trump during the 2016 Presidential Election. In turn, as self-monitoring decreases, we find that the tendency to express support for Trump increases. This study suggests that – at least for some individuals – there may have been a tendency in 2016 to repress expressed support for Donald Trump in order to mask socially undesirable attitudes.

---------------------

Polarization, Number of Parties, and Voter Turnout: Explaining Turnout in 26 OECD Countries

Allan Wilford

Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Methods: Using Comparative Manifesto Project data from 26 democracies, this study develops a measure of party systems that interacts party polarization and number of parties to explain turnout.

Results: Findings show that the composition of the party system as a whole is a key determinate of a voter's propensity to vote. Highly polarized systems with few parties spur individuals to vote, while low levels of polarization and many parties reduce incentives to vote.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Somebody else's babies

Religiosity, political conservatism, and support for legalized abortion: A bivariate ordered probit model with endogenous regressors

Steven Yen & Ernest Zampelli

Social Science Journal, March 2017, Pages 39–50

Abstract:
Using pooled data from the General Social Surveys, we estimated a bivariate ordered probit model of support for legalized elective- and traumatic-based abortions. Unlike past literature, we treat religiosity (practice and salience), religious orthodoxy, political ideology, and party identification as endogenous regressors. Religious orthodoxy is found to reduce the probability of supporting legalized abortions while religiosity increases it. Increases in political conservatism reduce the probability of supporting legalized abortions by substantial amounts. Surprisingly, movement along the party identification spectrum from strong Democrat to strong Republican increases the likelihood of supporting legalized abortion, likely reflecting the greater importance attached to limited government and the preservation of individual freedoms, after controlling for religious orthodoxy and self-placement along the liberal conservative dimension. Quantitatively, however, the negative impacts of increased political conservatism are dominant.

---------------------

The Effect of Minimum Wages on Adolescent Fertility: A Nationwide Analysis

Lindsey Rose Bullinger

American Journal of Public Health, March 2017, Pages 447-452

Methods: I used a difference-in-differences approach and vital statistics data measured quarterly at the state level from 2003 to 2014. All models included state covariates, state and quarter-year fixed effects, and state-specific quarter-year nonlinear time trends, which provided plausibly causal estimates of the effect of minimum wage on adolescent birth rates.

Results: A $1 increase in minimum wage reduces adolescent birth rates by about 2%. The effects are driven by non-Hispanic White and Hispanic adolescents.

Conclusions: Nationwide, increasing minimum wages by $1 would likely result in roughly 5000 fewer adolescent births annually.

---------------------

Abortion, Contraception, and Non-Marital Births: Re-Interpreting the Akerlof-Yellen-Katz Model of Pre-Marital Sex and Shotgun Marriage

Saul Hoffman

Eastern Economic Journal, March 2017, Pages 352–361

Abstract:
In a well-known paper, Akerlof, Yellen, and Katz proposed a counter-intuitive explanation for the rise of non-marital births in the United States that emphasized how birth control and abortion weakened the responsibility of men to their unmarried partner’s pregnancy. The paper is regularly cited by social conservatives to support measures to restrict sex education and access to contraception and abortion. I argue that this use of the paper’s findings stems from specific modeling assumptions about “types” of women. I present a reformulation of the model using more reasonable “types” that generates precisely the same results, but with radically different policy implications.

---------------------

Over-the-Counter Access to Oral Contraceptives for Adolescents

Krishna Upadhya et al.

Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Abstract:
Oral contraceptives (OCs) are used by millions of women in the U.S. The requirement to obtain OCs by prescription from a clinician may serve as a barrier to contraceptive initiation and continuation for women, in particular adolescents. Over-the-counter (OTC) availability would reduce this barrier and could further reduce unintended pregnancy rates. This review explores the scientific issues and regulatory processes involved in switching OCs to OTC status for minor adolescents. We review: (1) the regulatory criteria for switching a drug to OTC status; (2) risk of pregnancy and safety during use of OCs including combined oral contraceptives and progestin-only pills for adolescents; (3) the ability of adolescents to use OCs consistently and correctly; (4) OTC access to OCs and potential effect on sexual risk behaviors; and (5) the potential for reduced opportunities for clinicians to counsel and provide recommended reproductive health care to adolescents. We find strong scientific rationale for including adolescents in any regulatory change to switch OCs to OTC status. OCs are safe and highly effective among adolescents; contraindications are rarer among adolescents compared to adult women. Ready access to OCs, condoms, and emergency contraception increases their use without increasing sexual risk behaviors.

---------------------

Fetal health stagnation: Have health conditions in utero improved in the US and Western and Northern Europe over the past 150 years?

Eric Schneider

Social Science & Medicine, April 2017, Pages 18–26

Abstract:
Many empirical studies have shown that health conditions in utero can have long lasting consequences for health across the life course. However, despite this evidence, there is no clear consensus about how fetal health has changed in the very long run. This paper analyses historical birth weights and perinatal mortality rates to construct a coherent picture of how health conditions in utero have changed over the past 150 years. In short, the evidence suggests that fetal health has been relatively stagnant. Limited evidence on birth weights shows that they had already reached their current levels in North America and Northern and Western Europe by the late nineteenth century, and they have changed very little in between. Perinatal mortality rates have fallen dramatically since the late 1930s, but this decline was mainly caused by improvements in intrapartum treatments after the introduction of Sulfa drugs and antibiotics. Thus, the health benefits associated with the perinatal mortality decline were concentrated among those at risk and did not influence the population at large. Finding stagnant fetal health during a period when many other indicators of health improved dramatically is provocative and suggests two conclusions: either fetal health did not improve or the indicators used to measure fetal health, indicators still widely used today, may not accurately capture all aspects of health in utero. If fetal health has been stagnant, then better conditions in utero cannot explain cohort improvements in life expectancy over the twentieth century. If the indicators of fetal health are problematic, then researchers must move beyond birth weight and perinatal mortality to understand how developmental plasticity based on the prenatal environment influences later life health.

---------------------

Population Density, Fertility, and Demographic Convergence in Developing Countries

David de la Croix & Paula Gobbi

Journal of Development Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Whether the population tends towards a long-run stationary value depends on forces of demographic convergence. One such force is the result of fertility rates being negatively affected by population density. We test the existence of such an effect in 44 developing countries, matching georeferenced data from the Demographic and Health Surveys for half a million women with population density grids. We find a causal relationship from population density to fertility such that a rise in density from 10 to 1,000 inhabitants per square kilometer corresponds to a decrease in fertility of about 0.7 children. The corresponding half-life for population dynamics is of the order of four–five generations.

---------------------

Global Trends in Adolescent Fertility, 1990–2012, in Relation to National Wealth, Income Inequalities, and Educational Expenditures

John Santelli et al.

Journal of Adolescent Health, February 2017, Pages 161–168

Purpose: National wealth, income inequalities, and expenditures on education can profoundly influence the health of a nation's women, children, and adolescents. We explored the association of trends in national socioeconomic status (SES) indicators with trends in adolescent birth rates (ABRs), by nation and region.

Methods: An ecologic research design was employed using national-level data from the World Bank on birth rates per 1,000 women aged 15–19 years, national wealth (per capita gross domestic product or GDP), income inequality (Gini index), and expenditures on education as a percentage of GDP (EduExp). Data were available for 142 countries and seven regions for 1990–2012. Multiple linear regression for repeated measures with generalized estimating equations was used to examine independent associations.

Results: ABRs in 2012 varied >200-fold — with the highest rates in Sub-Saharan Africa and lowest rates in the Western Europe/Central Asia region. The median national ABR fell 40% from 72.4/1,000 in 1990 to 43.6/1,000 in 2012. The largest regional declines in ABR occurred in South Asia (70%), Europe/Central Asia (63%), and the Middle East/North Africa (53%) — regions with lower income inequality. In multivariable analyses considering change over time, ABRs were negatively associated with GDP and EduExp and positively associated with greater income inequality.

Conclusions: ABRs have declined globally since 1990. Declines closely followed rising socioeconomic status and were greater where income inequalities were lower in 1990. Reducing poverty and income inequalities and increasing investments in education should be essential components of national policies to prevent adolescent childbearing.

---------------------

“The Mommy Deployment”: Military Spouses and Surrogacy in the United States

Elizabeth Ziff

Sociological Forum, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines narratives of women who are surrogates and are married to members of the military in the United States. I show how this group of women invoke and transpose their structured military experiences and institutional understandings of sacrifice, duty, and responsibility when constructing their surrogate experience. Using semistructured interviews with 33 military spouses who have been surrogates, I trace the parallels they narrate between their role as military spouse and their role as surrogate — with metaphors of deployment, relocation, and the “hurry up and wait” game, in addition to strict daily regimentation. Through this work, I highlight the often-surprising transposition between militarized and surrogacy narratives invoked by surrogates and show how the practice of surrogacy allows them to tap into the narratives they have crafted through their experiences as a spouse to make a difference in the lives of others, contribute financially to their own families, and to gain a sense of importance outside of their everyday roles. The narratives provide for a better understanding of the commercially arranged surrogate experience in the United States and the state-structured military spouse experience by exposing the skills, language, and habits utilized by this group of women.

---------------------

Selection against variants in the genome associated with educational attainment

Augustine Kong et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 31 January 2017, Pages E727–E732

Abstract:
Epidemiological and genetic association studies show that genetics play an important role in the attainment of education. Here, we investigate the effect of this genetic component on the reproductive history of 109,120 Icelanders and the consequent impact on the gene pool over time. We show that an educational attainment polygenic score, POLYEDU, constructed from results of a recent study is associated with delayed reproduction (P < 10−100) and fewer children overall. The effect is stronger for women and remains highly significant after adjusting for educational attainment. Based on 129,808 Icelanders born between 1910 and 1990, we find that the average POLYEDU has been declining at a rate of ∼0.010 standard units per decade, which is substantial on an evolutionary timescale. Most importantly, because POLYEDU only captures a fraction of the overall underlying genetic component the latter could be declining at a rate that is two to three times faster.

---------------------

Role of Humor in the Persuasiveness of Entertainment Narratives on Unprotected Sexual Behavior

Michelle Futerfas & Xiaoli Nan

Journal of Health Communication, forthcoming

Abstract:
Past research involving the persuasive impact of entertainment narratives on health attitudes and behavior has largely been limited to dramatic narratives. The current research focuses on humorous narratives related to unprotected sex. We conducted an experiment (N = 161) in which female viewers were exposed to a humorous story line about unprotected sex, an identical story line with humor edited out, or a story line unrelated to unprotected sex. Our findings suggested that humor increased perceived severity of unintended pregnancy, while having no effect on counterarguing. Also, the presence of humor reduced behavioral intentions to engage in unprotected sex. Implications of the findings for safe sex communication are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Joining the modern world

The Long-Term Effect of Demographic Shocks on the Evolution of Gender Roles: Evidence from the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Edoardo Teso

Harvard Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
How do demographic shocks affect the long-run evolution of female labor force participation and gender norms? This paper focuses on the emergence of a female biased sex ratio in Africa as a consequence of the transatlantic slave trade. This historical shock affected the division of labor along gender lines, as women substituted for the missing men by taking up areas of work that were traditionally male prerogatives. By exploiting variation in the degree to which different ethnic groups were affected by the transatlantic slave trade, I show that a temporary historical shock to the division of labor can have a persistent effect on the role of women in society: women whose ancestors were more exposed to the transatlantic slave trade are today more likely to be in the labor force, have lower levels of fertility, and are more likely to participate in household decisions. The marriage market and the cultural transmission of internal norms across generations represent important mechanisms explaining persistence.

---------------------

The Macrogenoeconomics of Comparative Development

Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor

NBER Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
The importance of evolutionary forces for comparative economic performance across societies has been the focus of a vibrant literature, highlighting the roles played by the Neolithic Revolution and the prehistoric “out of Africa” migration of anatomically modern humans in generating worldwide variations in the composition of human traits. This essay surveys this literature and examines the contribution of a recent hypothesis regarding the evolutionary origins of comparative economic development, set forth in Nicholas Wade’s A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History, to this important line of research.

---------------------

The Effect of Aid on Growth: Evidence from a Quasi-Experiment

Sebastian Galiani et al.

Journal of Economic Growth, March 2017, Pages 1–33

Abstract:
The literature on aid and growth has not found a convincing instrumental variable to identify the causal effects of aid. This paper exploits an instrumental variable based on the fact that, since 1987, eligibility for aid from the International Development Association (IDA) has been based partly on whether or not a country is below a certain threshold of per capita income. The paper finds evidence that other donors tend to reinforce rather than compensate for reductions in IDA aid following threshold crossings. Overall, aid as a share of gross national income (GNI) drops about 59 % on average after countries cross the threshold. Focusing on the 35 countries that have crossed the income threshold from below between 1987 and 2010, a positive, statistically significant, and economically sizable effect of aid on growth is found. A 1 percentage point increase in the aid to GNI ratio from the sample mean raises annual real per capita growth in gross domestic product by approximately 0.35 percentage points.

---------------------

Spatial Competition, Innovation and Institutions: The Industrial Revolution and the Great Divergence

Klaus Desmet, Avner Greif & Stephen Parente

Stanford Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
Why do some countries industrialize much earlier than others? One widely-accepted answer is that markets need to be large enough for producers to find it profitable to bear the fixed cost of introducing modern technologies. This insight, however, has limited explanatory power, as illustrated by England having industrialized nearly two centuries before China. This paper argues that a market-size-only theory is insufficient because it ignores that many of the modern technologies associated with the Industrial Revolution were fiercely resisted by skilled craftsmen who expected a reduction in earnings. Once we take into account the incentives to resist by factor suppliers’ organizations such as craft guilds, we theoretically show that industrialization no longer depends on market size, but on the degree of spatial competition between the guilds’ jurisdictions. We substantiate the relevance of our theory for the timing of industrialization in England and China (i) by providing historical and empirical evidence on the relation between spatial competition, craft guilds and innovation, and (ii) by showing that a model of our theory calibrated to historical data on spatial competition correctly predicts the timing of industrialization in both countries. The theory can therefore account for both the Industrial Revolution and the Great Divergence.

---------------------

The Historical State, Local Collective Action, and Economic Development in Vietnam

Melissa Dell, Nathaniel Lane & Pablo Querubin

NBER Working Paper, March 2017

Abstract:
This study examines how the historical state conditions long-run development, using Vietnam as a laboratory. Northern Vietnam (Dai Viet) was ruled by a strong centralized state in which the village was the fundamental administrative unit. Southern Vietnam was a peripheral tributary of the Khmer (Cambodian) Empire, which followed a patron-client model with weaker, more personalized power relations and no village intermediation. Using a regression discontinuity design across the Dai Viet-Khmer boundary, the study shows that areas historically under a strong state have higher living standards today and better economic outcomes over the past 150 years. Rich historical data document that in villages with a strong historical state, citizens have been better able to organize for public goods and redistribution through civil society and local government. This suggests that the strong historical state crowded in village-level collective action and that these norms persisted long after the original state disappeared.

---------------------

Social Closure, Surnames and Crime

Paolo Buonanno & Paolo Vanin

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper studies the effect of social closure on crime and tax evasion rates using disaggregated data for Italian municipalities. We propose an original and innovative measure of social closure based on the diversity of surname distribution, which reflects a community's history of migration and inbreeding. We find that, all else equal, communities with a history of social closure have lower crime rates and higher tax evasion rates than more open communities. The effect of social closure is likely to be causal, it is relevant in magnitude, statistically significant, and robust to changes in the set of included controls, in the specific measures of dependent and independent variables, in the specification of the regression equation, and in the possible sample splits. Our findings are consistent with the idea that social closure strengthens social sanctions and social control, thus leading to more cooperative outcomes in local interactions, but it reduces cooperation on a larger scale.

---------------------

Agricultural Diversity, Structural Change and Long-run Development: Evidence from the U.S.

Martin Fiszbein

NBER Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
This paper examines the role of agricultural diversity in the process of development. Using data from U.S. counties and exploiting climate-induced variation in agricultural production patterns, I show that mid-19th century agricultural diversity had positive long-run effects on population density and income per capita. Examining the effects on development outcomes over time, I find that early agricultural diversity fostered structural change during the Second Industrial Revolution. Besides stimulating industrialization, agricultural diversity boosted manufacturing diversification, patent activity, and new labor skills, as well as knowledge- and skill-intensive industries. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that diversity spurs the acquisition of new ideas and new skills because of the presence of cross-sector spillovers and complementarities.

---------------------

Flexible Supply of Apprenticeship in the British Industrial Revolution

Nadav Ben Zeev, Joel Mokyr & Karine van der Beek

Journal of Economic History, March 2017, Pages 208-250

Abstract:
We use annual information on apprenticeships in England between 1710–1805 to estimate the dynamic supply-responsiveness in this market in the presence of the increasingly powerful technological shocks as the Industrial Revolution proceeded apace. Using both an Instrumental Variable method and a dynamic Vector Autoregression framework (VAR) system to identify the long-run response functions, we find evidence of an elastic supply, sufficiently high as to allow quantities to rise considerably in response to demand shocks. This finding lends support to the view that Britain's apprenticeship institution was the source of its advantage in skilled mechanical labor, so critical to its economic success.

---------------------

Technology-Skill Complementarity in Early Phases of Industrialization

Raphaël Franck & Oded Galor

NBER Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
The research explores the effect of industrialization on human capital formation. Exploiting exogenous regional variations in the adoption of steam engines across France, the study establishes that, in contrast to conventional wisdom that views early industrialization as a predominantly deskilling process, the industrial revolution was conducive for human capital formation, generating wide-ranging gains in literacy rates and educational attainment.

---------------------

Reform Support in Times of Crisis: The Role of Family Ties

Elias Brumm & Johannes Brumm

Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
We argue that an important determinant of voters' support for economic reform is the strength of family ties. While the “crisis hypothesis” predicts that crises facilitate reform, we show in a political economy model that this relation can break down, and even reverse, when agents take into account the effect of reform on their family members. Applied to southern European countries with strong family ties, the model rationalizes why the extremely high (youth) unemployment following the Great Recession has not led to more substantial labor market reforms. In such countries austerity might block rather than foster additional structural reforms.

---------------------

Who governs or how they govern: Testing the impact of democracy, ideology and globalization on the well-being of the poor

Eunyoung Ha & Nicholas Cain

Social Science Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines the effects of regime type, government ideology and economic globalization on poverty in low- and middle-income countries around the world. We use panel regression to estimate the effect of these explanatory variables on two different response variables: national poverty gap (104 countries from 1981 to 2005) and child mortality rate (132 countries from 1976 to 2005). We find consistent and significant results for the interactive effect of democracy and government ideology: strong leftist power under a democratic regime is associated with a reduction in both the poverty gap and the child mortality rate. Democracy, on its own, is associated with a lower child mortality rate, but has no effect on the poverty gap. Leftist power under a non-democratic regime is associated with an increase in both poverty measures. Trade reduces both measures of poverty. Foreign direct investment has a weak and positive effect on the poverty gap. From examining factors that influence the welfare of poor people in less developed countries, we conclude that who governs is as important as how they govern.

---------------------

Keeping It in the Family: Lineage Organization and the Scope of Trust in Sub-Saharan Africa

Jacob Moscona, Nathan Nunn & James Robinson

NBER Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
We present evidence that the traditional structure of society is an important determinant of the scope of trust today. Within Africa, individuals belonging to ethnic groups that organized society using segmentary lineages exhibit a more limited scope of trust, measured by the gap between trust in relatives and trust in non-relatives. This trust gap arises because of lower levels of trust in non-relatives and not higher levels of trust in relatives. A causal interpretation of these correlations is supported by the fact that the effects are primarily found in rural areas where these forms of organization are still prevalent.

---------------------

Political freedom and corporate payouts

Omrane Guedhami, Chuck Kwok & Liang Shao

Journal of Corporate Finance, April 2017, Pages 514–529

Abstract:
We study the effect of a country's political freedom status on corporate payouts around the world. In both OLS and two-stage regressions, we find that firms in less free countries pay out more cash, suggesting that low political freedom is associated with a less friendly investment environment. Consistent with this view, we further find that firms reduce payouts when a country's political freedom status improves, while they tend to pay out past excess cash and cut future investment in the face of a deterioration in political freedom. In additional analysis, we also find that firms in less free countries do not pay out cash mainly to ease agency concerns: cash payouts in these countries are more volatile and hence less valuable.

---------------------

The Role of Constitutions on Poverty: A Cross-National Investigation

Lanse Minkler & Nishith Prakash

Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We construct and use a new historical data set on economics and social rights from the constitutions of 195 countries and an instrument variable strategy to answer two important questions. First, do economic and social rights provisions in constitutions reduce poverty, measured as headcount income and health outcomes? Second, does the strength of constitutional language of the economic and social rights matter? Constitutional provisions can be framed either more weakly as directive principles or more strongly as enforceable law. Our results suggest three findings. First, we do not find an association between constitutional rights generally framed and poverty. Second, we do not find an association between economic and social rights framed as directive principles and poverty. Third, we do find a strong negative association between economic and social rights framed as enforceable law and poverty when we use legal origins as our IV. These results persist for indices of constitutional rights and also when we restrict the sample to non-OECD countries. The policy implication is that constitutional provisions framed as enforceable law provide effective meta-rules with incentives for policymakers to initiate, fund, monitor and enforce poverty reduction policies.

---------------------

Early-Life Disease Exposure and Occupational Status: The Impact of Yellow Fever during the 19th Century

Martin Saavedra

Explorations in Economic History, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using city-of-birth data from the 100-percent sample of the 1880 Census merged to city-level fatality counts, I estimate the relationship between early-life yellow fever exposure and adult occupational status. I find that white males with immigrant mothers were less likely to become professionals and more likely to become unskilled laborers or report occupational nonresponse if they were born during yellow fever epidemics. They also reported occupations with lower 1900 occupational income scores. The children of U.S.-born mothers (who were less susceptible to the disease) were relatively unaffected. Furthermore, I find no evidence that epidemics 3 to 4 years after birth affect adult occupational status, and the results are robust to controlling for local trade during an individual's birth year.

---------------------

Inter-communal institutions in medieval trade

Mika Kallioinen

Economic History Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines the institutional structure of medieval overseas trade to explain why trade thrived even in the absence of the state. The literature has dealt mainly with intra-coalition or intra-community relations. However, the literature does not answer the question of how institutions could be created that could support interaction between a large number of distant communities and between merchants who did not necessarily know one another. This article presents such an institution that prevailed in the Baltic Sea region in the late middle ages, referred to here as the inter-communal conciliation mechanism. In case of a dispute, conciliation took place between town councils, rather than the merchants involved in the dispute, thus combining individual liability and communal enforcement. Exploration of the documents reveals a task-specific regularity of behaviour, which was the general practice among merchants to turn to the council of their own community when they had problems in a foreign town, instead of being obliged to solve disputes by themselves. This institution provided a permanent, centralized, and relatively impartial enforcement mechanism to respond to breaches. It was therefore well adapted to large, at least partially anonymous markets, such as the Baltic Sea region, with dozens of towns and thousands of merchants.

---------------------

Farmers at the heart of the ‘human capital revolution’? Decomposing the numeracy increase in early modern Europe

Franziska Tollnek & Joerg Baten

Economic History Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Did the early development of skills and numerical abilities occur primarily in urban centres and among the elite groups of society? This study assesses the human capital of different occupational groups in the early modern period and partially confirms this finding: skilled and professional groups had higher levels of numeracy and literacy than persons in unskilled occupations. However, there was another large group that developed substantial human capital and represented around one-third of the total population: farmers. By analysing numeracy and literacy evidence from six countries in Europe and Latin America, we argue that farmers contributed significantly to the formation of human capital and, consequently, to modern economic growth.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Options

“Switching On” creativity: Task switching can increase creativity by reducing cognitive fixation

Jackson Lu, Modupe Akinola & Malia Mason

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, March 2017, Pages 63–75

Abstract:
Whereas past research has focused on the downsides of task switching, the present research uncovers a potential upside: increased creativity. In two experiments, we show that task switching can enhance two principal forms of creativity — divergent thinking (Study 1) and convergent thinking (Study 2) — in part because temporarily setting a task aside reduces cognitive fixation. Participants who continually alternated back and forth between two creativity tasks outperformed both participants who switched between the tasks at their discretion and participants who attempted one task for the first half of the allotted time before switching to the other task for the second half. Importantly, Studies 3a–3d reveal that people overwhelmingly fail to adopt a continual-switch approach when incentivized to choose a task switching strategy that would maximize their creative performance. These findings provide insights into how individuals can “switch on” creativity when navigating multiple creative tasks.

---------------------

Bayesian Instinct

Etan Green & David Daniels

University of Pennsylvania Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
Can people form rational beliefs when making split-second, sophisticated judgments? A long literature suggests not: people often form prior beliefs from biased sampling, and they tend to overweight those prior beliefs, except when they underweight them. This paper studies belief formation by professional umpires in Major League Baseball. Past research has noted a curious pattern in umpire decisions: despite instructions to call balls and strikes based solely on the location of the pitch, umpires make different calls in different game states for pitches at the same location. We show that a Bayesian model predicts these patterns almost exactly. Calls by umpires reflect an accurate, probabilistic, and state-specific understanding of their rational expectations over the location of the pitch — as well as an ability to integrate those prior beliefs according to Bayes rule. Given that umpires have barely a second to form beliefs and make a decision, we conclude that the instincts of professional umpires approximate a sophisticated level of rationality remarkably well.

---------------------

Doing many things at a time: Lack of power decreases the ability to multitask

Ran Alice Cai & Ana Guinote

British Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Three studies investigated the effects of power on the ability to pursue multiple, concomitant goals, also known as multitasking. It was predicted that powerless participants will show lower multitasking ability than control and powerful participants. Study 1 focused on self-reported ability to multitask in a sample of executives and subordinate employees. Studies 2 and 3 investigated the ability to dual-task and to switch between tasks, respectively, using dual-task and task-switching paradigms. Across the studies, powerless individuals were less able to effectively multitask compared with control and powerful participants, suggesting that the detrimental effects of lack of power extend beyond single-task environments, shown in past research, into multitasking environments. Underlying mechanisms are discussed.

---------------------

Contextual Influences on Message Persuasion: The Effect of Empty Space

Canice Kwan, Xianchi Dai & Robert Wyer

Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
The empty space that surrounds a text message can affect the message’s persuasiveness. Seven studies provide converging evidence in both field and laboratory settings that people find a message less persuasive, and are less likely to act on its implications, when it is surrounded by empty space than when it is not. These effects are mediated by perceptions of message strength. That is, message recipients infer that a message conveys a less strong opinion when empty space surrounds it and are consequently less likely to accept its implications. This effect does not occur when the space surrounding the message is generated randomly by a computer or when the message is attributed to a low credibility source. When a message is counterattitudinal, surrounding it by empty space decreases the disposition to counterargue its implications and increases acceptance of the position advocated. When recipients are under cognitive load, however, they use the space surrounding the message as a heuristic basis for judgment and are less persuaded when the message is surrounded by empty space. This research adds not only to persuasion literature and current advertising practices, but also to an understanding of different interpretations of empty space.

---------------------

The Excessive Choice Effect Meets the Market: A Field Experiment on Craft Beer Choice

Trey Malone & Jayson Lusk

Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, April 2017, Pages 8–13

Abstract:
Research in psychology suggests that, somewhat paradoxically, providing consumers more choices can reduce the likelihood of making a purchase, producing the so-called excessive choice effect (ECE). To the extent an ECE exists, firms have an incentive to alleviate the effect through a variety of institutional nudges that promote consumers to make a choice. This study empirically tests the effectiveness of two institutional nudges on the ECE in a field experiment at a bar. Focusing on craft beer sales, we manipulate the number of options on the menu and use institutional nudges (a control menu, a menu with a special prominently displayed, and a menu with Beer Advocate scores). In the field experiment, the ECE was alive and well using the control menu, but the effect reversed itself when the menu included Beer Advocate Scores. Our results suggest the ECE might be turned on and off by manipulating search costs.

---------------------

Time Matters Less When Outcomes Differ: Unimodal vs. Cross-Modal Comparisons in Intertemporal Choice

Robin Cubitt, Rebecca McDonald & Daniel Read

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Unimodal intertemporal decisions involve comparing options of the same type (e.g., apples now versus apples later), and cross-modal decisions involve comparing options of different types (e.g., a car now versus a vacation later). As we show, existing models of intertemporal choice do not allow time preference to depend on whether the comparisons to be made are unimodal or cross-modal. We test this restriction in an experiment using the delayed compensation method, a new extension of the standard method of eliciting intertemporal preferences that allows for assessment of time preference for nonmonetary and discrete outcomes, as well as for both cross-modal and unimodal comparisons. Participants were much more averse to delay for unimodal than cross-modal decisions. We provide two potential explanations for this effect: one drawing on multiattribute choice, the other drawing on construal-level theory.

---------------------

Choosing one at a time? Presenting options simultaneously helps people make more optimal decisions than presenting options sequentially

Shankha Basu & Krishna Savani

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, March 2017, Pages 76–91

Abstract:
This research examines an element of choice architecture that has received little attention — whether options are presented simultaneously or sequentially. Participants were more likely to choose dominating options when the options were presented simultaneously rather than sequentially, both when the dominance relationship was transparent (Experiment 1) and when it was not (Experiments 2–3). Depth of cognitive processing mediated the effect of option presentation on optimal choice (Experiment 4). Memory load was unlikely to be the underlying mechanism, as individual differences in working memory span did not predict optimal choice in the sequential condition (which places a greater memory load; Experiment 5), and manipulations of memory load did not reduce the benefits of simultaneous presentation (Experiments 6a–6c). Instead, participants’ working memory span predicted optimal choice in the simultaneous condition (which allows for more in-depth processing; Experiment 5), and a manipulation of processing load eliminated the benefits of simultaneous presentation (Experiment 7).

---------------------

Uncertainty Increases the Reliance on Affect in Decisions

Ali Faraji Rad & Michel Tuan Pham

Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
How do psychological states of uncertainty influence the way people make decisions? We propose that such states increase the reliance on affective inputs in judgments and decisions. In accord with this proposition, results from six studies show that the priming of uncertainty (vs. certainty) consistently increases the effects of a variety of affective inputs on consumers’ judgments and decisions. Primed uncertainty is shown to amplify the effects of the pleasantness of a musical soundtrack (study 1), the attractiveness of a picture (study 2), the appeal of affective attributes (studies 3 and 4), incidental mood states (study 6), and even incidental states of disgust (study 5). Moreover, both negative and positive uncertainty increase the influence of affect in decisions (study 4). The results additionally show that the increased reliance on affective inputs under uncertainty does not necessarily come at the expense of a reliance on descriptive attribute information (studies 2 and 5), and that the increased reliance on affect under uncertainty is distinct from a general reliance on heuristic or peripheral cues (study 6). The phenomenon may be due to uncertainty threatening the self, thereby encouraging a reliance on inputs that are closer to the self and have high subjective validity.

---------------------

Monkeys choose as if maximizing utility compatible with basic principles of revealed preference theory

Alexandre Pastor-Bernier, Charles Plott & Wolfram Schultz

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 7 March 2017, Pages E1766–E1775

Abstract:
Revealed preference theory provides axiomatic tools for assessing whether individuals make observable choices “as if” they are maximizing an underlying utility function. The theory evokes a tradeoff between goods whereby individuals improve themselves by trading one good for another good to obtain the best combination. Preferences revealed in these choices are modeled as curves of equal choice (indifference curves) and reflect an underlying process of optimization. These notions have far-reaching applications in consumer choice theory and impact the welfare of human and animal populations. However, they lack the empirical implementation in animals that would be required to establish a common biological basis. In a design using basic features of revealed preference theory, we measured in rhesus monkeys the frequency of repeated choices between bundles of two liquids. For various liquids, the animals’ choices were compatible with the notion of giving up a quantity of one good to gain one unit of another good while maintaining choice indifference, thereby implementing the concept of marginal rate of substitution. The indifference maps consisted of nonoverlapping, linear, convex, and occasionally concave curves with typically negative, but also sometimes positive, slopes depending on bundle composition. Out-of-sample predictions using homothetic polynomials validated the indifference curves. The animals’ preferences were internally consistent in satisfying transitivity. Change of option set size demonstrated choice optimality and satisfied the Weak Axiom of Revealed Preference (WARP). These data are consistent with a version of revealed preference theory in which preferences are stochastic; the monkeys behaved “as if” they had well-structured preferences and maximized utility.

---------------------

Overconfidence over the lifespan

Julia Prims & Don Moore

Judgment and Decision Making, January 2017, Pages 29–41

Abstract:
This research investigated how different forms of overconfidence correlate with age. Contrary to stereotypes that young people are more overconfident, the results provide little evidence that overestimation of one’s performance or overplacement of one’s performance relative to that of others is correlated with age. Instead, the results suggest that precision in judgment (confidence that one knows the truth) increases with age. This result is strongest for probabilistic elicitations, and not present in quantile elicitations or reported confidence intervals. The results suggest that a lifetime of experience, rather than leading to better calibration, instead may increase our confidence that we know what we’re talking about.

---------------------

Losses and External Outcomes Interact to Produce the Gambler’s Fallacy

Julia Mossbridge, Christopher Roney & Satoru Suzuki

PLoS ONE, January 2017

Abstract:
When making serial predictions in a binary decision task, there is a clear tendency to assume that after a series of the same external outcome (e.g., heads in a coin flip), the next outcome will be the opposing one (e.g., tails), even when the outcomes are independent of one another. This so-called “gambler’s fallacy” has been replicated robustly. However, what drives gambler’s fallacy behavior is unclear. Here we demonstrate that a run of the same external outcome by itself does not lead to gambler’s fallacy behavior. However, when a run of external outcomes is accompanied by a concurrent run of failed guesses, gambler’s fallacy behavior is predominant. These results do not depend on how participants’ attention is directed. Thus, it appears that gambler’s fallacy behavior is driven by a combination of an external series of events and a concurrent series of failure experiences.

---------------------

Risk Aversion, the Disposition Effect, and Group Decision Making: An Experimental Analysis

Wlademir Prates, Newton da Costa & Anderson Dorow

Managerial and Decision Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article reports a laboratory experiment comparing the behavior of individuals and groups in terms of their susceptibility to the disposition effect. A total of 174 students took part in six experimental sessions in which they made decisions individually, in pairs, or in three-person groups. It was observed that the disposition effect was attenuated when the decisions were made in groups of two or three members. It was also noted that the attenuating effect of group decision making was the result of a reduction in the proportion of gains realized, indicating that the groups were less risk averse than individuals.

---------------------

Personality, Information Acquisition, and Choice under Uncertainty: An Experimental Study

Guillaume Fréchette, Andrew Schotter & Isabel Trevino

Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article studies the role of personality in choice under risk and uncertainty. We explore the hypothesis that personality plays a role in decision making in situations of uncertainty but not in situations of risk. In addition to offering support for this main hypothesis, we explore the various pathways through which personality exerts its influence. What we find is that in uncertain environments, where decision makers are able to acquire information about the unknown probability distributions they face, personality variables influence the type of information people acquire, which then influences their choice. Our experimental design brings in two novel aspects of choice under uncertainty: information acquisition and advice. The findings indicate that indeed, under uncertainty, personality matters for choice in a way it does not under risk. Furthermore, the results suggest that personality can play a role at multiple levels, such as people's preferences for certain types of information and the likelihood of following advice.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, March 20, 2017

Trade you

Trade Shocks and the Provision of Local Public Goods

Leo Feler & Mine Senses

American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
We analyze the impact of trade-induced income shocks on the size of local government and the provision of public services. Areas in the US with declining labor demand and incomes due to increasing import competition from China experience relative declines in housing prices and business activity. Since local governments are disproportionately funded through property and sales taxation, declining property values and a decrease in economic activity translate into less revenue, which constrains the ability of local governments to provide public services. State and federal governments have limited ability to smooth local shocks, and the impact on the provision of public services is compounded when local income shocks are highly correlated with shocks in the rest of the state. The outcome is a relative decline not only in incomes but also in the quality of public services and amenities in trade exposed localities.

---------------------

Trade, Politics, and the Poor: Is Sen Right and Bhagwati Wrong?

Nita Rudra & Daniel Tirone

Studies in Comparative International Development, March 2017, Pages 1-22

Abstract:
The current debate between two of the world's finest economists - Amartya Sen and Jagdish Bhagwati -has not only roiled India but also attracted global attention. Is trade liberalization associated with improved welfare outcomes for the poor, as Bhagwati contends? Or is Sen correct that policymakers in liberalizing economies need to change their governance priorities to focus on redistribution? This analysis draws on existing literature to develop testable hypotheses that attempt to resolve the Sen-Bhagwati divide. Using fixed effect panel regressions and simultaneous equation models, we find that although there is empirical support for both arguments, the results on balance favor Sen: The positive relationship between trade and improved poverty is conditional upon more equitable distributions of income. In effect, Bhagwati's predictions about the beneficial impacts of openness on social welfare occur only in a subset of developing nations, findings which have very different implications for the poor in developing countries.

---------------------

The Impact of Brexit on Foreign Investment and Production

Ellen McGrattan & Andrea Waddle

NBER Working Paper, March 2017

Abstract:
In this paper, we estimate the impact of increasing costs on foreign producers following a withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (popularly known as Brexit). Our predictions are based on simulations of a multicountry neoclassical growth model that includes multinational firms investing in research and development (R&D), brands, and other intangible capital that is used nonrivalrously by their subsidiaries at home and abroad. We analyze several post-Brexit scenarios. First, we assume that the United Kingdom unilaterally imposes tighter restrictions on foreign direct investment (FDI) from other E.U. nations. With less E.U. technology deployed in the United Kingdom, U.K. firms increase investment in their own R&D and other intangibles, which is costly, and welfare for U.K. citizens is lower. If the European Union remains open, its citizens enjoy a modest gain from the increased U.K. investment since it can be costlessly deployed in subsidiaries throughout Europe. If instead we assume that the European Union imposes the same restrictions on U.K. FDI, then E.U. firms invest more in their own R&D, benefiting the United Kingdom. With costs higher on both U.K. and E.U. FDI, we predict a significant fall in foreign investment and production by U.K. firms. The United Kingdom increases international lending, which finances the production of others both domestically and abroad, and inward FDI rises. U.K. consumption falls and leisure rises, implying a negligible impact on welfare. In the European Union, declines in investment and production are modest, but the welfare of E.U. citizens is significantly lower. Finally, if, during the transition, the United Kingdom reduces current restrictions on other major foreign investors, such as the United States and Japan, U.K. inward FDI and welfare both rise significantly.

---------------------

Dying for Globalization? The Impact of Economic Globalization on Industrial Accidents

Robert Blanton & Dursun Peksen

Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Methods: We combine data on economic globalization with data on major industrial accidents, and examine the relationship between these variables across 137 countries for the period 1971-2012.

Results: We find a significant positive relationship between economic globalization and the probability of industrial accidents. Results further suggest that the impact of state policies encouraging globalization, such as the removal of barriers to trade and capital flows, is stronger than that of trade and investment flows themselves.

---------------------

Foreign Risk, Domestic Problem: Capital Allocation and Firm Performance Under Political Instability

Burcin Col, Art Durnev & Alexander Molchanov

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We argue in this paper that firms with foreign operations misallocate capital and underperform when they face political instability abroad. We develop and test a dynamic model of firm capital allocation under foreign political instability. The model shows that as a political regime becomes less stable, independent of whether the regime becomes less business-friendly or more business-friendly, firms invest suboptimally (i.e., they either overinvest or underinvest), and their marginal q's diverge further from an optimal level. Using elections and textual analysis of local media during national elections, we construct a novel index of political instability. We find that U.S. firms and industries with a greater exposure to election-induced political instability experience disruptions of investment efficiency that lead to lower valuations and lower total factor productivity. Therefore, international trade is a significant conduit of foreign political instability into U.S. markets.

---------------------

Trade Policy and Redistribution when Preferences are Non-Homothetic

Quy-Toan Do & Andrei Levchenko

NBER Working Paper, March 2017

Abstract:
We compare redistribution through trade restrictions vs. domestic lump-sum transfers. When preferences are non-homothetic, even domestic lump-sum transfers affect relative prices. Thus, contrary to the conventional wisdom, domestic lump-sum transfers are not necessarily superior to distortionary trade policy. We develop this argument in the context of food export bans imposed by many developing countries in the late 2000s.

---------------------

Capacity Constrained Exporters: Identifying Increasing Marginal Cost

JaeBin Ahn & Alexander McQuoid

Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study revisits a central assumption of standard trade models: constant marginal cost technology. The presence of increasing marginal costs for exporters introduces significant market interdependence across borders missing from traditional models of international trade that rely on constant marginal cost technology. Such market interdependence represents an additional channel through which local shocks are transmitted globally. To identify increasing marginal cost at the level of the firm, we build in flexible production assumptions that nest increasing, decreasing, and constant marginal cost technology to an otherwise standard international trade model. We derive an estimating equation that can be taken directly to the data. Our structural equation explicitly guides our inference on the shape of the marginal cost curve from estimated coefficients. The results suggest that increasing marginal cost is predominant at the firm level. Moreover, utilizing plant-level information on physical and financial capacity constraints, we find that the degree of increasing marginal cost is significantly exacerbated by both types of constraints. The evidence suggests that access to larger markets through greater international integration may not have the expected welfare gains typically predicted in standard models.

---------------------

When Britain turned inward: Protection and the shift towards Empire in Interwar Britain

Alan de Bromhead et al.

NBER Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
International trade became much less multilateral during the 1930s. Previous studies, looking at aggregate trade flows, have argued that discriminatory trade policies had comparatively little to do with this. Using highly disaggregated information on the UK's imports and trade policies, we find that policy can explain the majority of Britain's shift towards Imperial imports in the 1930s. Trade policy mattered, a lot.

---------------------

Network structure impacts global commodity trade growth and resilience

Ali Kharrazi, Elena Rovenskaya & Brian Fath

PLoS ONE, February 2017

Abstract:
Global commodity trade networks are critical to our collective sustainable development. Their increasing interconnectedness pose two practical questions: (i) Do the current network configurations support their further growth? (ii) How resilient are these networks to economic shocks? We analyze the data of global commodity trade flows from 1996 to 2012 to evaluate the relationship between structural properties of the global commodity trade networks and (a) their dynamic growth, as well as (b) the resilience of their growth with respect to the 2009 global economic shock. Specifically, we explore the role of network efficiency and redundancy using the information theory-based network flow analysis. We find that, while network efficiency is positively correlated with growth, highly efficient systems appear to be less resilient, losing more and gaining less growth following an economic shock. While all examined networks are rather redundant, we find that network redundancy does not hinder their growth. Moreover, systems exhibiting higher levels of redundancy lose less and gain more growth following an economic shock. We suggest that a strategy to support making global trade networks more efficient via, e.g., preferential trade agreements and higher specialization, can promote their further growth; while a strategy to increase the global trade networks' redundancy via e.g., more abundant free-trade agreements, can improve their resilience to global economic shocks.

---------------------

Discriminatory Product Differentiation: The Case of Israel's Omission from Airline Route Maps

Joel Waldfogel & Paul Vaaler

University of Minnesota Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
While product differentiation is generally benign, it can be employed to discriminate against customer groups, either to enhance profitability by appealing to discriminatory customers or in unprofitable ways that indulge owners' tastes for discrimination. We explore discriminatory product differentiation in the airline market through airlines' depiction of Israel on their online route maps and whether their online menus include kosher meal options. We first show that several international airlines omit Israel from their online route maps. Three of these airlines are members of the major international airline alliances. With data on over 100 airlines, we then document that Israel map denial is more likely for airlines with passengers from countries exhibiting greater anti-Semitism. Owner tastes also matter: denial is more likely for state-owned airlines in countries that do not recognize Israel. Kosher meal options on online menus follow similar patterns, suggesting anti-Semitic rather than anti-Zionist motivations. Israel denial does not reduce the probability of alliance membership with alliance leaders having few airline alternatives to choose from in the Middle East.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Early risers

Ancient X chromosomes reveal contrasting sex bias in Neolithic and Bronze Age Eurasian migrations

Amy Goldberg et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 7 March 2017, Pages 2657–2662

Abstract:
Dramatic events in human prehistory, such as the spread of agriculture to Europe from Anatolia and the late Neolithic/Bronze Age migration from the Pontic-Caspian Steppe, can be investigated using patterns of genetic variation among the people who lived in those times. In particular, studies of differing female and male demographic histories on the basis of ancient genomes can provide information about complexities of social structures and cultural interactions in prehistoric populations. We use a mechanistic admixture model to compare the sex-specifically–inherited X chromosome with the autosomes in 20 early Neolithic and 16 late Neolithic/Bronze Age human remains. Contrary to previous hypotheses suggested by the patrilocality of many agricultural populations, we find no evidence of sex-biased admixture during the migration that spread farming across Europe during the early Neolithic. For later migrations from the Pontic Steppe during the late Neolithic/Bronze Age, however, we estimate a dramatic male bias, with approximately five to 14 migrating males for every migrating female. We find evidence of ongoing, primarily male, migration from the steppe to central Europe over a period of multiple generations, with a level of sex bias that excludes a pulse migration during a single generation. The contrasting patterns of sex-specific migration during these two migrations suggest a view of differing cultural histories in which the Neolithic transition was driven by mass migration of both males and females in roughly equal numbers, perhaps whole families, whereas the later Bronze Age migration and cultural shift were instead driven by male migration, potentially connected to new technology and conquest.

---------------------

Evolutionary population history of early Paleoamerican cranial morphology

Noreen von Cramon-Taubadel, André Strauss & Mark Hubbe

Science Advances, February 2017

Abstract:
The nature and timing of the peopling of the Americas is a subject of intense debate. In particular, it is unclear whether high levels of between-group craniometric diversity in South America result from multiple migrations or from local diversification processes. Previous attempts to explain this diversity have largely focused on testing alternative dispersal or gene flow models, reaching conflicting or inconclusive results. Here, a novel analytical framework is applied to three-dimensional geometric morphometric data to partition the effects of population divergence from geographically mediated gene flow to understand the ancestry of the early South Americans in the context of global human history. The results show that Paleoamericans share a last common ancestor with contemporary Native American groups outside, rather than inside, the Americas. Therefore, and in accordance with some recent genomic studies, craniometric data suggest that the New World was populated by multiple waves of dispersion from northeast Asia throughout the late Pleistocene and early Holocene.

---------------------

Ardipithecus ramidus and the evolution of language and singing: An early origin for hominin vocal capability

Gary Clark & Maciej Henneberg

HOMO - Journal of Comparative Human Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this paper we analyse the possibility that the early hominin Ardipithecus ramidus had vocal capabilities far exceeding those of any extant non-human primate. We argue that erect posture combined with changes in craniofacial morphology, such as reduced facial and jaw length, not only provide evidence for increased levels of pro-sociality, but also increased vocal ability. Reduced length of the face and jaw, combined with a flexed cranial base, suggests the larynx in this species was situated deeper in the neck than in chimpanzees, a trait which may have facilitated increased vocal ability. We also provide evidence that Ar. ramidus, by virtue of its erect posture, possessed a degree of cervical lordosis significantly greater than chimpanzees. This is indicative of increased mobility of the larynx within the neck and hence increased capacity to modulate vocalisations. In the paleoanthropological literature, these changes in early hominin skull morphology have to date been analysed in terms of a shift in mating and social behaviour, with little consideration given to vocally mediated sociality. Similarly, in the literature on language evolution there is a distinct lacuna regarding links between craniofacial correlates of social and mating systems and vocal ability. These are surprising oversights given that pro-sociality and vocal capability require identical alterations to the common ancestral skull and skeletal configuration. We therefore propose a model which integrates data on whole organism morphogenesis with evidence for a potential early emergence of hominin socio-vocal adaptations. Consequently, we suggest vocal capability may have evolved much earlier than has been traditionally proposed. Instead of emerging in the Homo genus, we suggest the palaeoecological context of late Miocene and early Pliocene forests and woodlands facilitated the evolution of hominin socio-vocal capability. We also propose that paedomorphic morphogenesis of the skull via the process of self-domestication enabled increased levels of pro-social behaviour, as well as increased capacity for socially synchronous vocalisation to evolve at the base of the hominin clade.

---------------------

Archaeogenomic evidence reveals prehistoric matrilineal dynasty

Douglas Kennett et al.

Nature Communications, February 2017

Abstract:
For societies with writing systems, hereditary leadership is documented as one of the hallmarks of early political complexity and governance. In contrast, it is unknown whether hereditary succession played a role in the early formation of prehistoric complex societies that lacked writing. Here we use an archaeogenomic approach to identify an elite matriline that persisted between 800 and 1130 CE in Chaco Canyon, the centre of an expansive prehistoric complex society in the Southwestern United States. We show that nine individuals buried in an elite crypt at Pueblo Bonito, the largest structure in the canyon, have identical mitochondrial genomes. Analyses of nuclear genome data from six samples with the highest DNA preservation demonstrate mother–daughter and grandmother–grandson relationships, evidence for a multigenerational matrilineal descent group. Together, these results demonstrate the persistence of an elite matriline in Chaco for ∼330 years.

---------------------

Massive increase in visual range preceded the origin of terrestrial vertebrates

Malcolm MacIver et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
The evolution of terrestrial vertebrates, starting around 385 million years ago, is an iconic moment in evolution that brings to mind images of fish transforming into four-legged animals. Here, we show that this radical change in body shape was preceded by an equally dramatic change in sensory abilities akin to transitioning from seeing over short distances in a dense fog to seeing over long distances on a clear day. Measurements of eye sockets and simulations of their evolution show that eyes nearly tripled in size just before vertebrates began living on land. Computational simulations of these animal’s visual ecology show that for viewing objects through water, the increase in eye size provided a negligible increase in performance. However, when viewing objects through air, the increase in eye size provided a large increase in performance. The jump in eye size was, therefore, unlikely to have arisen for seeing through water and instead points to an unexpected hybrid of seeing through air while still primarily inhabiting water. Our results and several anatomical innovations arising at the same time suggest lifestyle similarity to crocodiles. The consequent combination of the increase in eye size and vision through air would have conferred a 1 million-fold increase in the amount of space within which objects could be seen. The “buena vista” hypothesis that our data suggest is that seeing opportunities from afar played a role in the subsequent evolution of fully terrestrial limbs as well as the emergence of elaborated action sequences through planning circuits in the nervous system.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Seeing it

Inferring Perspective Versus Getting Perspective: Underestimating the Value of Being in Another Person’s Shoes

Haotian Zhou, Elizabeth Majka & Nicholas Epley

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
People use at least two strategies to solve the challenge of understanding another person’s mind: inferring that person’s perspective by reading his or her behavior (theorization) and getting that person’s perspective by experiencing his or her situation (simulation). The five experiments reported here demonstrate a strong tendency for people to underestimate the value of simulation. Predictors estimated a stranger’s emotional reactions toward 50 pictures. They could either infer the stranger’s perspective by reading his or her facial expressions or simulate the stranger’s perspective by watching the pictures he or she viewed. Predictors were substantially more accurate when they got perspective through simulation, but overestimated the accuracy they had achieved by inferring perspective. Predictors’ miscalibrated confidence stemmed from overestimating the information revealed through facial expressions and underestimating the similarity in people’s reactions to a given situation. People seem to underappreciate a useful strategy for understanding the minds of others, even after they gain firsthand experience with both strategies.

---------------------

Of guns and snakes: Testing a modern threat superiority effect

Baptiste Subra et al.

Cognition and Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous studies suggest that ancient (i.e. evolutionary-based) threats capture attention because human beings possess an inborn module shaped by evolution and dedicated to their detection. An alternative account proposes that a key feature predicting whether a stimulus will capture attention is its relevance rather than its ontology (i.e. phylogenetic or ontogenetic threat). Within this framework, the present research deals with the attentional capture by threats commonly encountered in our urban environment. In two experiments, we investigate the attentional capture by modern threats (i.e. weapons). In Experiment 1, participants responded to a target preceded by a cue, which was a weapon or a non-threatening stimulus. We found a larger cuing effect (faster reaction times to valid vs. invalid trials) with weapons as compared with non-threatening cues. In Experiment 2, modern (e.g. weapons) and ancient threats (e.g. snakes) were pitted against one another as cues to determine which ones preferentially capture attention. Crucially, participants were faster to detect a target preceded by a modern as opposed to an ancient threat, providing initial evidence for a superiority of modern threat. Overall, the present findings appear more consistent with a relevance-based explanation rather than an evolutionary-based explanation of threat detection.

---------------------

The “Common Good” Phenomenon: Why Similarities Are Positive and Differences Are Negative

Hans Alves, Alex Koch & Christian Unkelbach

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Positive attributes are more prevalent than negative attributes in the social environment. From this basic assumption, 2 implications that have been overlooked thus far: Positive compared with negative attributes are more likely to be shared by individuals, and people’s shared attributes (similarities) are more positive than their unshared attributes (differences). Consequently, similarity-based comparisons should lead to more positive evaluations than difference-based comparisons. We formalized our probabilistic reasoning in a model and tested its predictions in a simulation and 8 experiments (N = 1,181). When participants generated traits about 2 target persons, positive compared with negative traits were more likely to be shared by the targets (Experiment 1a) and by other participants’ targets (Experiment 1b). Conversely, searching for targets’ shared traits resulted in more positive traits than searching for unshared traits (Experiments 2, 4a, and 4b). In addition, positive traits were more accessible than negative traits among shared traits but not among unshared traits (Experiment 3). Finally, shared traits were only more positive when positive traits were indeed prevalent (Experiments 5 and 6). The current framework has a number of implications for comparison processes and provides a new interpretation of well-known evaluative asymmetries such as intergroup bias and self-superiority effects.

---------------------

The Grounded Nature of Psychological Perspective-Taking

Thorsten Erle & Sascha Topolinski

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Psychological perspective-taking is a powerful social cognition that helps us to understand other people. It creates feelings of closeness and sympathy, motivates us to help others, and is important for positive social relationships. In contrast to the impressive knowledge about its consequences, relatively little is known about how exactly people achieve them. The present paper addresses this question from a grounded cognition perspective, drawing on recent findings on the embodiment of visuospatial perspective-taking. Visuospatial perspective-taking involves a mental transformation of one’s body schema into the physical location of another person. We argue that when people psychologically “put themselves in another person’s shoes,” this simulation of physical proximity happens, too, and is one source of perceived closeness. In five experiments (total N = 1067), participants completed a visuospatial perspective-taking task. During half of the trials, angular disparity between the target person and the participant was high and participants had to adopt the target’s visual perspective (which involves an embodied simulation). During the remaining trials, angular disparity was low and participants could solve the task egocentrically. Taking another’s perspective led participants to adopt the thoughts of the target person more strongly (Experiments 1–3) and increased the perceived similarity of that person to the self (Experiment 4) and participants’ liking of that person (Experiment 5). These effects were independent of task difficulty (Experiment 2), and only present during trials where an embodied transformation happened (i.e., at high angular disparities; Experiment 3). Implications for psychological and visuospatial perspective-taking research and related phenomena are discussed.

---------------------

Neuroplus biofeedback improves attention, resilience, and injury prevention in elite soccer players

Aiace Rusciano, Giuliano Corradini & Ivilin Stoianov

Psychophysiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Performance and injury prevention in elite soccer players are typically investigated from physical-tactical, biomechanical, and metabolic perspectives. However, executive functions, visuospatial abilities, and psychophysiological adaptability or resilience are also fundamental for efficiency and well-being in sports. Based on previous research associating autonomic flexibility with prefrontal cortical control, we designed a novel integrated autonomic biofeedback training method called Neuroplus to improve resilience, visual attention, and injury prevention. Herein, we introduce the method and provide an evaluation of 20 elite soccer players from the Italian Soccer High Division (Serie-A): 10 players trained with Neuroplus and 10 trained with a control treatment. The assessments included psychophysiological stress profiles, a visual search task, and indexes of injury prevention, which were measured pre- and posttreatment. The analysis showed a significant enhancement of physiological adaptability, recovery following stress, visual selective attention, and injury prevention that were specific to the Neuroplus group. Enhancing the interplay between autonomic and cognitive functions through biofeedback may become a key principle for obtaining excellence and well-being in sports. To our knowledge, this is the first evidence that shows improvement in visual selective attention following intense autonomic biofeedback.

---------------------

Familiar Real-World Spatial Cues Provide Memory Benefits in Older and Younger Adults

Jessica Robin & Morris Moscovitch

Psychology and Aging, forthcoming

Abstract:
Episodic memory, future thinking, and memory for scenes have all been proposed to rely on the hippocampus, and evidence suggests that these all decline in healthy aging. Despite this age-related memory decline, studies examining the effects of context reinstatement on episodic memory have demonstrated that reinstating elements of the encoding context of an event leads to better memory retrieval in both younger and older adults. The current study was designed to test whether more familiar, real-world contexts, such as locations that participants visited often, would improve the detail richness and vividness of memory for scenes, autobiographical events, and imagination of future events in young and older adults. The predicted age-related decline in internal details across all 3 conditions was accompanied by persistent effects of contextual familiarity, in which a more familiar spatial context led to increased detail and vividness of remembered scenes, autobiographical events, and, to some extent, imagined future events. This study demonstrates that autobiographical memory, imagination of the future, and scene memory are similarly affected by aging, and all benefit from being associated with more familiar (real-world) contexts, illustrating the stability of contextual reinstatement effects on memory throughout the life span.

---------------------

Harnessing the Placebo Effect: Exploring the Influence of Physician Characteristics on Placebo Response

Lauren Howe, Parker Goyer & Alia Crum

Health Psychology, forthcoming

Methods: After inducing an allergic reaction in participants through a histamine skin prick test, a health care provider administered a cream with no active ingredients and set either positive expectations (cream will reduce reaction) or negative expectations (cream will increase reaction). The provider demonstrated either high or low warmth, or either high or low competence.

Results: The impact of expectations on allergic response was enhanced when the provider acted both warmer and more competent and negated when the provider acted colder and less competent.

---------------------

Reading What the Mind Thinks From How the Eye Sees

Daniel Lee & Adam Anderson

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Human eyes convey a remarkable variety of complex social and emotional information. However, it is unknown which physical eye features convey mental states and how that came about. In the current experiments, we tested the hypothesis that the receiver’s perception of mental states is grounded in expressive eye appearance that serves an optical function for the sender. Specifically, opposing features of eye widening versus eye narrowing that regulate sensitivity versus discrimination not only conveyed their associated basic emotions (e.g., fear vs. disgust, respectively) but also conveyed opposing clusters of complex mental states that communicate sensitivity versus discrimination (e.g., awe vs. suspicion). This sensitivity-discrimination dimension accounted for the majority of variance in perceived mental states (61.7%). Further, these eye features remained diagnostic of these complex mental states even in the context of competing information from the lower face. These results demonstrate that how humans read complex mental states may be derived from a basic optical principle of how people see.

---------------------

Social Information Influences Emotional Experience and Late Positive Potential Response to Affective Pictures

Emily Willroth, Leonie Koban & Matthew Hilimire

Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Emotion experience and regulation frequently occur in social settings. Social influence is a common source of unconscious change in judgment in many contexts, but it has yet to be investigated as a form of automatic emotion regulation. Here, we demonstrate that nonpredictive social information (i.e., high or low “emotion intensity ratings from other people” that were not related to the actual intensity of the pictures) about the intensity of pleasant and unpleasant picture stimuli can influence self-reported emotional experience and the magnitude of the late positive potential, an event-related potential associated with the detection of emotional salience and sustained attention to motivationally significant stimulus features. These results show that emotional responses to pleasant and unpleasant affective pictures can be altered by nonpredictive social information on both the behavioral and the neurophysiological level.

---------------------

Explaining Sad People’s Memory Advantage for Faces

Peter Hills et al.

Frontiers in Psychology, February 2017

Abstract:
Sad people recognize faces more accurately than happy people (Hills et al., 2011). We devised four hypotheses for this finding that are tested between in the current study. The four hypotheses are: (1) sad people engage in more expert processing associated with face processing; (2) sad people are motivated to be more accurate than happy people in an attempt to repair their mood; (3) sad people have a defocused attentional strategy that allows more information about a face to be encoded; and (4) sad people scan more of the face than happy people leading to more facial features to be encoded. In Experiment 1, we found that dysphoria (sad mood often associated with depression) was not correlated with the face-inversion effect (a measure of expert processing) nor with response times but was correlated with defocused attention and recognition accuracy. Experiment 2 established that dysphoric participants detected changes made to more facial features than happy participants. In Experiment 3, using eye-tracking we found that sad-induced participants sampled more of the face whilst avoiding the eyes. Experiment 4 showed that sad-induced people demonstrated a smaller own-ethnicity bias. These results indicate that sad people show different attentional allocation to faces than happy and neutral people.

---------------------

Composition in portraits: Selfies and wefies reveal similar biases in untrained modern youths and ancient masters

Nicola Bruno, Carole Bode & Marco Bertamini

Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition, May/June 2017, Pages 279-293

Abstract:
Previous analyses suggest that artists prefer poses showing the left side of the subject’s face when composing a portrait, but showing the right side when composing their own self-portrait. There is also some evidence that artists may prefer compositions with key features on the right of the picture. Do these findings generalize to spontaneous, pseudo-artistic productions by individuals with no formal training in painting and art history? To investigate this issue, we tested a sample of 104 British schoolchildren and teenagers (mean age = 13.8 years; 80 females). We analysed posing biases in individual photographic self-portraits (“selfies”) as well as of self-portraits including also the portrait of a friend (“wefies”). Our results document a bias for showing the left cheek in selfies, a bias for placing the selfie-taker on the right in wefies, and a bias for showing two left cheeks over two right cheeks, again in wefies. These biases are reminiscent of what has been reported for selfies in adult non-artists and for portraits and self-portraits by artists in the 16th–18th centuries. Thus, these results provide new evidence in support of a biological basis for side biases in portraits and self-portraits independently of training and expertise.

---------------------

Are Portrait Artists Superior Face Recognizers? Limited Impact of Adult Experience on Face Recognition Ability

Jeremy Tree et al.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Across 2 studies, the authors asked whether extensive experience in portrait art is associated with face recognition ability. In Study 1, 64 students completed a standardized face recognition test before and after completing a year-long art course that included substantial portraiture training. They found no evidence of an improvement in face recognition after training over and above what would be expected by practice alone. In Study 2, the authors investigated the possibility that more extensive experience might be needed for such advantages to emerge, by testing a cohort of expert portrait artists (N = 28), all of whom had many years of experience. In addition to memory for faces, they also explored memory for abstract art and for words in a paired-associate recognition test. The expert portrait artists performed similarly to a large, normative comparison sample on memory for faces and words but showed a small advantage for abstract art. Taken together, the results converge with existing literature to suggest that there is relatively little plasticity in face recognition in adulthood, at which point our substantial everyday experience with faces may have pushed us to the limits of our capabilities.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10   Next