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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

In your judgment

Waste Management: How Reducing Partiality Can Promote Efficient Resource Allocation

Shoham Choshen-Hillel, Alex Shaw & Eugene Caruso
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Two central principles that guide resource-allocation decisions are equity (providing equal pay for equal work) and efficiency (not wasting resources). When these two principles conflict with one another, people will often waste resources to avoid inequity. We suggest that people wish to avoid inequity not because they find it inherently unfair, but because they want to avoid the appearance of partiality associated with it. We explore one way to reduce waste by reducing the perceived partiality of inequitable allocations. Specifically, we hypothesize that people will be more likely to favor an efficient (albeit inequitable) allocation if it puts them in a disadvantaged position than if it puts others in a disadvantaged position. To test this hypothesis, we asked participants to choose between giving some extra resource to one person (thereby creating inequity between this person and equally deserving others) and not giving the resource to anyone (thereby wasting the resource). Six studies, using realistic scenarios and behavioral paradigms, provide robust evidence for a self-disadvantaging effect: Allocators were consistently more likely to create inequity to avoid wasting resources when the resulting inequity would put them at a relative disadvantage than when it would put others at a relative disadvantage. We further find that this self-disadvantaging effect is a direct result of people’s concern about appearing partial. Our findings suggest the importance of impartiality even in distributive justice, thereby bridging a gap between the distributive and procedural justice literatures.

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Grouping Promotes Equality: The Effect of Recipient Grouping on Allocation of Limited Medical Resources

Helen Colby, Jeff DeWitt & Gretchen Chapman
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Decisions about allocation of scarce resources, such as transplant organs, often entail a trade-off between efficiency (i.e., maximizing the total benefit) and fairness (i.e., dividing resources equally). In three studies, we used a hypothetical scenario for transplant-organ allocation to examine allocation to groups versus individuals. Study 1 demonstrated that allocation to individuals is more efficient than allocation to groups. Study 2 identified a factor that triggers the use of fairness over efficiency: presenting the beneficiaries as one arbitrary group rather than two. Specifically, when beneficiaries were presented as one group, policymakers tended to allocate resources efficiently, maximizing total benefit. However, when beneficiaries were divided into two arbitrary groups (by hospital name), policymakers divided resources more equally across the groups, sacrificing efficiency. Study 3 replicated this effect using a redundant attribute (prognosis) to create groups and found evidence for a mediator of the grouping effect — the use of individualizing information to rationalize a more equitable allocation decision.

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Interviewing to Elicit Information: Using Priming to Promote Disclosure

Evan Dawson, Maria Hartwig & Laure Brimbal
Law and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research on implicit cognition has found that activating mental concepts can lead people to behave in ways that are consistent with the primed concept. In a pilot study we tested the effects of priming attachment security on the accessibility of disclosure-related concepts. Subsequently, we tested whether activating disclosure concepts by priming attachment security would influence people’s forthcomingness. Participants (N = 102) delivered a flash drive to a confederate who exposed them to details of a mock eco terrorism conspiracy, which they were subsequently interviewed about. Before being interviewed, half of the participants were primed; the other half were not. Results showed that primed participants disclosed significantly more information than those who were not primed. Our findings highlight the need for further research on basic nonconscious processes in investigative interviews, as such influences can affect the outcome of the interview. The operation of nonconscious influences in such contexts has implications for practitioners, who may be able to utilize priming to facilitate disclosure.

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Other-serving bias in advice-taking: When advisors receive more credit than blame

Mauricio Palmeira, Gerri Spassova & Hean Tat Keh
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, September 2015, Pages 13–25

Abstract:
We examine attributions of responsibility in advice-taking. In contrast to the well-documented self-serving bias, we find the opposite phenomenon, whereby decision-makers view an advisor as more responsible for a positive rather than a negative outcome, while they view themselves as more responsible for a negative rather than a positive outcome. We propose that this other-serving pattern of attributions is driven by a hindsight bias in the positive-outcome condition. Namely, knowledge that the outcome is positive and consistent with the advisor’s recommendation makes the outcome appear to be under the control of the advisor, which increases the perceived responsibility of the advisor relative to that of the decision-maker. No such bias is observed in the negative-outcome condition. We conduct five studies that show the robustness of this bias, provide evidence for the mechanism, and rule out several alternative explanations.

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Behavioral bias and the demand for bicycle and flood insurance

Mark Browne, Christian Knoller & Andreas Richter
Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, April 2015, Pages 141-160

Abstract:
With data from an insurer that provides coverage for both a low probability, high consequence (LPHC) risk (the flood peril) and a high probability, low consequence (HPLC) risk (bicycle theft), we investigate behavioral bias in the demand for insurance. Our analysis provides evidence which is consistent with a preference for insurance for HPLC risks over LPHC risks: we find that many more policyholders purchase add-on coverage to their homeowner’s insurance to cover the risk of bicycle theft than to cover the risk of loss due to flooding. In addition, we find mixed evidence on whether policyholders’ insurance coverage decisions are responsive to changes in their risk exposure. We find a strong relationship between wealth and the demand for both types of coverage.

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The role of social comparison for maximizers and satisficers: Wanting the best or wanting to be the best?

Kimberlee Weaver et al.
Journal of Consumer Psychology, July 2015, Pages 372–388

Abstract:
Consumers chose between options that paired either an objectively inferior good with high relative standing (Your laptop is rated 60/100 in quality; others' laptops are rated 50/100) or an objectively superior good with low relative standing (Your laptop is rated 80/100 in quality; others' laptops are rated 95/100). Decision makers who try to make the “best” decision, known as maximizers (Schwartz et al., 2002), pursued relative standing more than decision makers who are satisfied with outcomes that are “good enough” (known as satisficers). That is, maximizers were more likely than satisficers to choose objectively inferior products when they were associated with higher relative standing. Subsequent analyses investigating decisions across time showed that maximizers' interest in relative standing persisted even when the nature of the tradeoff was made overt, suggesting it is a conscious aspect of the maximizer identity. Overall, results suggest that the maximizer self concept is more complex than has been previously assumed — they are focused on relative outcomes in addition to absolute outcomes.

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A Model of Nonbelief in the Law of Large Numbers

Daniel Benjamin, Matthew Rabin & Collin Raymond
Journal of the European Economic Association, forthcoming

Abstract:
People believe that, even in very large samples, proportions of binary signals might depart significantly from the population mean. We model this “nonbelief in the Law of Large Numbers” by assuming that a person believes that proportions in any given sample might be determined by a rate different than the true rate. In prediction, a nonbeliever expects the distribution of signals will have fat tails. In inference, a nonbeliever remains uncertain and influenced by priors even after observing an arbitrarily large sample. We explore implications for beliefs and behavior in a variety of economic settings.

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The Making of Homo Honoratus: From Omission to Commission

Michael Hallsworth et al.
NBER Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
Framing remains one of the pillars of behavioral economics. While framing effects have been found to be quite important in the lab, what is less clear is how well evidence drawn from naturally-occurring settings conforms to received laboratory insights. We use debt obligation to the UK government as a case study to explore the ‘omission bias’ present in decision making with large stakes. Using a natural field experiment that generates nearly 40,000 observations, we find that repayment rates are roughly doubled when the act is reframed as one of commission rather than omission. We estimate that this reframing of the perceived nature of the action generated over $1.3 million of new yield. We find evidence that this behavior may result from a deliberate ‘omission strategy’, rather than a behavioral bias, as is often assumed in the literature. Our natural field experiment highlights that behavioral economics is much more than a series of empirical exercises to quench the intellectual curiosity of academics.

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Threat-Related Information Suggests Competence: A Possible Factor in the Spread of Rumors

Pascal Boyer & Nora Parren
PLoS ONE, June 2015

Abstract:
Information about potential danger is a central component of many rumors, urban legends, ritual prescriptions, religious prohibitions and witchcraft crazes. We investigate a potential factor in the cultural success of such material, namely that a source of threat-related information may be intuitively judged as more competent than a source that does not convey such information. In five studies, we asked participants to judge which of two sources of information, only one of which conveyed threat-related information, was more knowledgeable. Results suggest that mention of potential danger makes a source appear more competent than others, that the effect is not due to a general negativity bias, and that it concerns competence rather than a more generally positive evaluation of the source.

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Is Trust Always Better than Distrust? The Potential Value of Distrust in Newer Virtual Teams Engaged in Short-Term Decision-Making

Paul Benjamin Lowry et al.
Group Decision and Negotiation, July 2015, Pages 723-752

Abstract:
The debate on the benefits of trust or distrust in groups has generated a substantial amount of research that points to the positive aspects of trust in groups, and generally characterizes distrust as a negative group phenomenon. Therefore, many researchers and practitioners assume that trust is inherently good and distrust is inherently bad. However, recent counterintuitive evidence obtained from face-to-face (FtF) groups indicates that the opposite might be true; trust can prove detrimental, and distrust instrumental, to decision-making in groups. By extending this argument to virtual teams (VTs), we examined the value of distrust for VTs completing routine and non-routine decision tasks, and showed that the benefits of distrust can extend to short-term VTs. Specifically, VTs seeded with distrust significantly outperformed all control groups in a non-routine decision-making task. In addition, we present quantitative evidence to show that the decision task itself can significantly affect the overall levels of trust/distrust within VTs. In addition to its practical and research implications, the theoretical contribution of our study is that it extends to a group level, and then to a VT setting, a theory of distrust previously tested in the psychology literature in the context of completing non-routine and routine decision tasks at an individual level.

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Syllogisms delivered in an angry voice lead to improved performance and engagement of a different neural system compared to neutral voice

Kathleen Smith et al.
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, May 2015

Abstract:
Despite the fact that most real-world reasoning occurs in some emotional context, very little is known about the underlying behavioral and neural implications of such context. To further understand the role of emotional context in logical reasoning we scanned 15 participants with fMRI while they engaged in logical reasoning about neutral syllogisms presented through the auditory channel in a sad, angry, or neutral tone of voice. Exposure to angry voice led to improved reasoning performance compared to exposure to sad and neutral voice. A likely explanation for this effect is that exposure to expressions of anger increases selective attention toward the relevant features of target stimuli, in this case the reasoning task. Supporting this interpretation, reasoning in the context of angry voice was accompanied by activation in the superior frontal gyrus — a region known to be associated with selective attention. Our findings contribute to a greater understanding of the neural processes that underlie reasoning in an emotional context by demonstrating that two emotional contexts, despite being of the same (negative) valence, have different effects on reasoning.

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Pushing away from representative advice: Advice taking, anchoring, and adjustment

Christina Rader, Jack Soll & Richard Larrick
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, September 2015, Pages 26–43

Abstract:
Five studies compare the effects of forming an independent judgment prior to receiving advice with the effects of receiving advice before forming one’s own opinion. We call these the independent-then-revise sequence and the dependent sequence, respectively. We found that dependent participants adjusted away from advice, leading to fewer estimates close to the advice compared to independent-then-revise participants (Studies 1–5). This “push-away” effect was mediated by confidence in the advice (Study 2), with dependent participants more likely to evaluate advice unfavorably and to search for additional cues than independent-then-revise participants (Study 3). Study 4 tested accuracy under different advice sequences. Study 5 found that classic anchoring paradigms also show the push-away effect for median advice. Overall, the research shows that people adjust from representative (median) advice. The paper concludes by discussing when push-away effects occur in advice taking and anchoring studies and the value of independent distributions for observing these effects.

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Language Switching — But Not Foreign Language Use Per Se — Reduces the Framing Effect

Y. Oganian, C.W. Korn & H.R. Heekeren
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent studies reported reductions of well-established biases in decision making under risk, such as the framing effect, during foreign language (FL) use. These modulations were attributed to the use of FL itself, which putatively entails an increase in emotional distance. A reduced framing effect in this setting, however, might also result from enhanced cognitive control associated with language-switching in mixed-language contexts, an account that has not been tested yet. Here we assess predictions of the 2 accounts in 2 experiments with over 1,500 participants. In Experiment 1, we tested a central prediction of the emotional distance account, namely that the framing effect would be reduced at low, but not high, FL proficiency levels. We found a strong framing effect in the native language, and surprisingly also in the foreign language, independent of proficiency. In Experiment 2, we orthogonally manipulated foreign language use and language switching to concurrently test the validity of both accounts. As in Experiment 1, foreign language use per se had no effect on framing. Crucially, the framing effect was reduced following a language switch, both when switching into the foreign and the native language. Thus, our results suggest that reduced framing effects are not mediated by increased emotional distance in a foreign language, but by transient enhancement of cognitive control, putting the interplay of bilingualism and decision making in a new light.

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Counter-Regulating on the Internet: Threat Elicits Preferential Processing of Positive Information

Hannah Greving, Kai Sassenberg & Adam Fetterman
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, forthcoming

Abstract:
The Internet is a central source of information. It is increasingly used for information search in self-relevant domains (e.g., health). Self-relevant topics are also associated with specific emotions and motivational states. For example, individuals may fear serious illness and feel threatened. Thus far, the impact of threat has received little attention in Internet-based research. The current studies investigated how threat influences Internet search. Threat is known to elicit the preferential processing of positive information. The self-directed nature of Internet search should particularly provide opportunities for such processing behavior. We predicted that during Internet search, more positive information would be processed (i.e., allocated more attention to) and more positive knowledge would be acquired under threat than in a control condition. Three experiments supported this prediction: Under threat, attention is directed more to positive web pages (Study 1) and positive links (Study 2), and more positive information is acquired (Studies 1 and 3) than in a control condition. Notably, the effect on knowledge acquisition was mediated by the effect on attention allocation during an actual Internet search (Study 1). Thus, Internet search under threat leads to selective processing of positive information and dampens threatened individuals’ negative affect.

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Conflicted advice and second opinions: Benefits, but unintended consequences

Sunita Sah & George Loewenstein
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, September 2015, Pages 89–107

Abstract:
Second opinions have been advocated as an antidote to bias in advice when primary advisors have conflicts of interest. In four experiments, we demonstrate how primary advisors alter their advice due to knowledge of the presence of a second advisor. We show that advisors give more biased advice and adopt a profit-maximizing frame when they are aware of the mere availability of a second opinion. The bias increases when primary advisors are aware that the second opinion is of low quality, and decreases when they know the second opinion is of high quality and easy to access. Both economic concerns (e.g., losing future business) and noneconomic concerns (e.g., concern that a second advisor will expose the poor quality advice) decrease bias in primary advisors’ advice. Based on these findings, we discuss circumstances in which second opinions are likely to be beneficial or detrimental to advice-recipients.

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Not looking yourself: The cost of self-selecting photographs for identity verification

David White, Amy Burton & Richard Kemp
British Journal of Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Photo-identification is based on the premise that photographs are representative of facial appearance. However, previous studies show that ratings of likeness vary across different photographs of the same face, suggesting that some images capture identity better than others. Two experiments were designed to examine the relationship between likeness judgments and face matching accuracy. In Experiment 1, we compared unfamiliar face matching accuracy for self-selected and other-selected high-likeness images. Surprisingly, images selected by previously unfamiliar viewers – after very limited exposure to a target face – were more accurately matched than self-selected images chosen by the target identity themselves. Results also revealed extremely low inter-rater agreement in ratings of likeness across participants, suggesting that perceptions of image resemblance are inherently unstable. In Experiment 2, we test whether the cost of self-selection can be explained by this general disagreement in likeness judgments between individual raters. We find that averaging across rankings by multiple raters produces image selections that provide superior identification accuracy. However, benefit of other-selection persisted for single raters, suggesting that inaccurate representations of self interfere with our ability to judge which images faithfully represent our current appearance.

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Does the presence of a mannequin head change shopping behavior?

Annika Lindström et al.
Journal of Business Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Mannequins are ubiquitous; this research investigates a specific element of mannequin style, namely, the presence or absence of a humanized head. Study 1 demonstrates that in physical stores, the presence of a humanized head enhances purchase intentions for the merchandise displayed on that mannequin. However, in online stores, mannequin styles with and without humanized heads are equally effective. Study 2 confirms the physical store results among customers with less fashion knowledge (novices), but among customers with more fashion knowledge (experts), the results reverse, such that mannequins without humanized heads enhance purchase intentions. Further, accessories are more likely to be viewed by experts when the mannequin is headless. These results are based on experiments whose dependent measures included both survey and eye-tracking data.

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Oxytocin enhances implicit social conformity to both in-group and out-group opinions

Yi Huang et al.
Psychoneuroendocrinology, October 2015, Pages 114–119

Abstract:
People often alter their own preferences when facing conflicting opinions expressed by others. This is known as the social conformity effect and tends to be stronger in response to opinions expressed by in-group relative to out-group members. The hypothalamic neuropeptide oxytocin promotes in-group favoritism, elicits parochial altruism, and stimulates in-group conformity under explicit social pressure. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled design experiment using a facial attractiveness judgment task, we therefore investigated whether social conformity to either in-group or out-group opinions is influenced by intranasal oxytocin treatment when social pressure is implicit. After oxytocin or placebo treatment, male participants were asked to rate the attractiveness of unfamiliar Chinese female faces, and then they were informed of ratings given by peers from an in-group (Chinese) and out-group (Japanese) simultaneously. They were subsequently asked unexpectedly to re-rate the same faces. Results showed that oxytocin increased conformity to both in- and out-group opinions. Thus oxytocin promotes conformity to opinions of both in- and out-group members when social pressure is implicit, suggesting that it facilitates ‘tend and befriend’ behaviors by increasing the general level of social conformity.

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Ostracism Reduces Reliance on Poor Advice from Others during Decision Making

Kaileigh Byrne et al.
Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, forthcoming

Abstract:
Decision making is rarely context-free, and often, both social information and non-social information are weighed into one's decisions. Incorporating information into a decision can be influenced by previous experiences. Ostracism has extensive effects, including taxing cognitive resources and increasing social monitoring. In decision making situations, individuals are often faced with both objective and social information and must choose which information to include or filter out. How will ostracism affect the reliance on objective and social information during decision making? Participants (N = 245) in Experiment 1 were randomly assigned to be included or ostracized in a standardized, group task. They then performed a dynamic decision making task that involved the presentation of either non-social (i.e. biased reward feedback) or social (i.e., poor advice from a previous participant) misleading information. In Experiment 2, participants (N = 105) completed either the ostracism non-social condition or social misleading information condition with explicit instructions stating that the advice given was from an individual who did not partake in the group task. Ostracized individuals relied more on non-social misleading information and performed worse than included individuals. However, ostracized individuals discounted misleading social information and outperformed included individuals. Results of Experiment 2 replicated the findings of Experiment 1. Across two experiments, ostracized individuals were more critical of advice from others, both individuals who may have ostracized them and unrelated individuals. In other words, compared with included individuals, ostracized individuals underweighted advice from another individual but overweighed non-social information during decision making. We conclude that when deceptive objective information is present, ostracism results in disadvantageous decision making.

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Willpower Depletion and Framing Effects

Thomas de Haan & Roel van Veldhuizen
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, September 2015, Pages 47–61

Abstract:
One of the hallmark findings from behavioral economics is that choices are sensitive to the context they are presented in. However, the strength of such ‘framing effects’ varies between studies, and some studies fail to find any effect at all. A long line of research has argued that the presence and size of framing effects depend to a large extent on whether people use higher or lower-level mental decision making processes (or heuristics). A similarly important line of research in social psychology and economics suggests that higher-level mental processes such as self-control draw upon a limited pool of mental resources that can be exhausted. This study links these two lines of research and investigates whether depleting people's mental resources (or ‘willpower’) affects the degree to which they are susceptible to framing effects. In three separate experiments we depleted participants’ willpower using the commonly used Stroop task method and subsequently made them take part in a series of tasks, including a framed prisoner's dilemma, an attraction effect task and an anchoring effect task. However, though we find strong evidence of a framing effect in all three tasks, the strength of these effects is not affected by induced changes in the level of willpower depletion.

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The effect of cognitive load on economic decision making: A survey and new experiments

Cary Deck & Salar Jahedi
European Economic Review, August 2015, Pages 97–119

Abstract:
Psychologists and economists have examined the effect of cognitive load in a variety of situations from risk taking to snack choice. We review previous experiments that have directly manipulated cognitive load and summarize their findings. We report the results of two new experiments where participants engage in a digit-memorization task while simultaneously performing a variety of economic tasks including: (1) choices involving risk, (2) choices involving intertemporal substitution, (3) choices with anchoring effects, (4) choices over healthy and unhealthy snacks, and (5) math problems. We find that higher cognitive load reduces numeracy as measured by performance in math problems. Moreover, within-subject analysis indicates that cognitive load leads to more risk-averse behavior, more impatience over money, and (nominally) more likelihood to anchor. We do not find any evidence that cognitive load increases impatience over consumption goods or unhealthy snack choices. Exploiting the panel nature of our data set, we find that those individuals who are most sensitive to cognitive load, as measured by a large drop in their own math performance across 1- and 8-digit memorization treatments, are driving much of the effect.

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My Mug Is Valuable, But My Partner's Is Even More So: Economic Decisions for Close Others

Michael Greenstein & Xiaomeng Xu
Basic and Applied Social Psychology, May/June 2015, Pages 174-187

Abstract:
In three experiments, we investigated how people make economic decisions for close others. Participants performed an imaginary valuation task for objects of theirs, a close other, and a stranger. Replicating the endowment effect, people valued their objects more than a stranger's. Of interest, participants valued a close other's objects more than their own. Further experiments showed that the inflated values for a close other's objects were not due to social desirability or task demands. These results convey the importance of considering for whom an economic decision is being made, as people respond differently for themselves, close others, and strangers.

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The need to belong and the value of belongings: Does ostracism change the subjective value of personal possessions?

Lukasz Walasek, William Matthews & Tim Rakow
Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
A growing body of research has demonstrated that feelings of possession influence the valuation of personal possessions. Psychological theories of ownership suggest that a special bond between a person and his/her possession arises in response to the innate motivation for effectance, self-identity and need for home. However, current empirical support is insufficient to make a causal link between these psychological needs and feelings of ownership. In four studies (total N > 800), we manipulated people's basic needs by inducing feelings of ostracism, which threatens the needs for belonging, self-esteem, control, and belief in a meaningful existence. Despite the fact that these social needs are closely related to the putative antecedents of feelings of ownership, the ostracism manipulation did not significantly affect participants’ feelings of ownership, or their valuations of their possessions, whether measured by willingness to accept or willingness to pay. These results suggest that the special bond that people have with their belongings is not readily used to restore basic psychological needs following the experience of social exclusion.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, July 6, 2015

Backward

Deals and Delays: Firm-level Evidence on Corruption and Policy Implementation Times

Caroline Freund, Mary Hallward-Driemeier & Bob Rijkers
World Bank Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Whether demands for bribes for particular government services are associated with expedited or delayed policy implementation underlies debates around the role of corruption in private sector development. The “grease the wheels” hypothesis, which contends that bribes act as speed money, implies three testable predictions. First, on average, bribe requests should be negatively correlated with wait times. Second, this relationship should vary across firms, with those with the highest opportunity cost of waiting being more likely to pay and facing shorter delays. Third, the role of grease should vary across countries, with benefits larger where regulatory burdens are greatest. The data are inconsistent with all three predictions. According to the preferred specifications, ceteris paribus, firms confronted with demands for bribes take approximately 1.5 times longer to get a construction permit, operating license, or electrical connection than firms that did not have to pay bribes and, respectively, 1.2 and 1.4 times longer to clear customs when exporting and importing. The results are robust to controlling for firm fixed effects and at odds with the notion that corruption enhances efficiency.

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Does wealth inequality matter for growth? The effect of billionaire wealth, income distribution, and poverty

Sutirtha Bagchi & Jan Svejnar
Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
A fundamental question in social sciences relates to the effect of wealth inequality on economic growth. Yet, in tackling the question, researchers have had to use income as a proxy for wealth. We derive a global measure of wealth inequality from Forbes magazine's listing of billionaires and compare its effect on growth to the effects of income inequality and poverty. Our results suggest that wealth inequality has a negative relationship with economic growth, but when we control for the fact that some billionaires acquired wealth through political connections, the relationship between politically connected wealth inequality and economic growth is negative, while politically unconnected wealth inequality, income inequality, and initial poverty have no significant relationship.

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Does Democracy Drive Income in the World, 1500–2000?

Jakob Madsen, Paul Raschky & Ahmed Skali
European Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using data for political regimes, income and human capital for a sample of 141 countries over the periods 1820–2000 and 1500–2000, this research examines the income and growth effects of democracy when human capital, among other key variables, is controlled for. Linguistic distance-weighted foreign democracy is used as an instrument for domestic democracy. Democracy is found to be a significant determinant of income and growth and the result is robust to various estimation methods and covariates. We find that a one-standard deviation increase in democracy is associated with a 44–98% increase in per capita income.

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The Rise in Life Expectancy and Economic Growth in the 20th Century

Casper Worm Hansen & Lars Lønstrup
Economic Journal, May 2015, Pages 838–852

Abstract:
This research exploits conditional exogenous variation in mortality from the diffusion of modern medicine to study the effect of growth in life expectancy on the growth in GDP per capita. The empirical analysis establishes that countries that obtained higher growth rates of life expectancy due to this shock to mortality in the mid-twentieth century experienced lower growth rates of GDP per capita in the second half of the twentieth century. In addition, a negative relationship between initial level of life expectancy and the subsequent growth rate of GDP per capita is found.

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Empty Thrones: Medieval Politics, State Building and Contemporary Development in Europe

Avidit Acharya & Alexander Lee
Stanford Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
The development of modern state institutions is a major legacy of the medieval period in Europe. In this paper, we investigate the effects of medieval politics on contemporary economic development through their effect on the success or failure of medieval state building efforts. During the Middle Ages, most European polities operated under a norm that gave only the close male relatives of a deceased monarch a clear place in the line of succession. When no such heirs were available, succession disputes were more likely, with more distant relatives and female(-line) heirs laying competing claims to the throne. These disputes often produced violent conflicts that destroyed existing state institutions and stunted the subsequent development of the state. We therefore hypothesize that a shortage of male heirs to a European monarchy in the Middle Ages has a deleterious effect on levels of development across contemporary European regions ruled by that monarchy. We find that regions that were more likely to have a shortage of such heirs are today poorer than other regions. Our finding highlights the importance of the medieval period in European development, and show how luck works in combination with both institutions and norms in shaping development trajectories.

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An Economic Rationale for the African Scramble: The Commercial Transition and the Commodity Price Boom of 1845-1885

Ewout Frankema, Jeffrey Williamson & Pieter Woltjer
NBER Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
This is the first study to present a unified quantitative account of African commodity trade in the long 19th century from the zenith of the Atlantic slave trade (1790s) to the eve of World War II (1939). Drawing evidence from a new dataset on export and import prices, volumes, composition and net barter terms of trade for five African regions, we show that Sub-Saharan Africa experienced a terms of trade boom that was comparable to other parts of the ‘global periphery’ from the late 18th century up to the mid-1880s, with an exceptionally sharp price boom in the four decades before the Berlin conference (1845-1885). We argue that this commodity price boom changed the economic context in favor of a European scramble for Africa. We also show that the accelerated export growth after the establishment of colonial rule deepened Africa’s specialization in primary commodities, even though the terms of trade turned into a prolonged decline after 1885.

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The “Peter Pan Syndrome” in Emerging Markets: The Productivity-Transparency Trade-off in IT Adoption

K. Sudhir & Debabrata Talukdar
Marketing Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Firms invest in technology to increase productivity. Yet in emerging markets, where a culture of informality is widespread, information technology (IT) investments leading to greater transparency can impose a cost through higher taxes and the need for regulatory compliance. The tendency of firms to avoid productivity-enhancing technologies and remain small to avoid transparency has been dubbed the “Peter Pan Syndrome.” We examine whether firms make the trade-off between productivity and transparency by examining IT adoption in the Indian retail sector. We find that computer technology adoption is lower when firms are motivated to avoid transparency. Specifically, technology adoption is lower when there is greater corruption, but higher when there is better enforcement and auditing. So, firms have a higher productivity gain threshold to adopt computers in corrupt business environments that suffer from patchy and variable enforcement of the tax laws. Not accounting for this motivation to hide from the formal sector underestimates productivity gains from computer adoption. Thus, in addition to their direct effects on the economy, enforcement, auditing, and corruption can have indirect effects through their negative impact on adoption of productivity-enhancing technologies that also increase operational transparency.

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The Culture of Corruption, Tax Evasion, and Economic Growth

Maksym Ivanyna, Alexandros Moumouras & Peter Rangazas
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study uses a dynamic general equilibrium model to quantify the effects of corruption and tax evasion on fiscal policy and economic growth. The model is calibrated to match estimates of tax evasion in developing countries. The calibrated model is able to generate reasonable predictions for net tax rates, the corruption associated with public investment projects, and the negative correlation between corruption and tax revenue. The presence of corruption and evasion is shown to have significant, but not large, negative effects on economic growth. The relatively moderate effects help explain the absence of a robust negative correlation between growth and corruption in cross-country data. The model also implies that cracking down on tax evasion before addressing corruption can be a bad idea and that higher wages for public officials can improve welfare.

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The mortality cost of political connections

Raymond Fisman & Yongxiang Wang
Review of Economic Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study the relationship between the political connections of Chinese firms and workplace fatalities. In our preferred specification we find that the worker death rate for connected companies is two to three times that of unconnected firms (depending on the sample employed), a pattern that holds for within-firm estimations. The connections-mortality relationship is attenuated in provinces where safety regulators’ promotion is contingent on meeting safety targets. In the absence of fatalities, connected firms receive fewer reports of major violations for safety compliance, whereas in years of fatal accidents the rate of reported violations is identical. Moreover, fatal accidents produce negative returns at connected companies and are associated with the subsequent departure of well-connected executives. These results provide suggestive evidence that connections enable firms to avoid (potentially costly) compliance measures, rather than using connections to avoid regulatory response after accidents occur. Our findings emphasize the social costs of political connections, and suggest that appropriate regulatory incentives may be useful in mitigating these costs.

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Debt into Growth: How Sovereign Debt Accelerated the First Industrial Revolution

Jaume Ventura & Hans-Joachim Voth
NBER Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
Why did the country that borrowed the most industrialize first? Earlier research has viewed the explosion of debt in 18th century Britain as either detrimental, or as neutral for economic growth. In this paper, we argue instead that Britain’s borrowing boom was beneficial. The massive issuance of liquidly traded bonds allowed the nobility to switch out of low-return investments such as agricultural improvements. This switch lowered factor demand by old sectors and increased profits in new, rising ones such as textiles and iron. Because external financing contributed little to the Industrial Revolution, this boost in profits in new industries accelerated structural change, making Britain more industrial more quickly. The absence of an effective transfer of financial resources from old to new sectors also helps to explain why the Industrial Revolution led to massive social change – because the rich nobility did not lend to or invest in the revolutionizing industries, it failed to capture the high returns to capital in these sectors, leading to relative economic decline.

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Old habits die hard (sometimes)

Tommy Murphy
Journal of Economic Growth, June 2015, Pages 177-222

Abstract:
Unified growth theory suggests the fertility decline was crucial for achieving long-term growth, yet the causes behind that decline are still not entirely clear from an empirical point of view. In particular for France, the first country to experience this demographic transition in the European context, the reasons why some areas of the country had lower fertility than others are poorly understood. Using département level data for the last quarter of the nineteenth century, this paper exploits the French regional variation to study the correlates of fertility, estimating various fixed-effects models. The findings confirm the importance of some of the forces suggested by standard fertility choice models. Education in general, female education in particular, for example, seems to be crucial. Results also highlight the relevance of non-economic factors (such as secularisation), for which I provide new measurements. The presence of spatial dependence also suggests that diffusion of fertility played a particular role.

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Globalization and the Ethnic Divide: Recent Longitudinal Evidence

Phanindra Wunnava, Aniruddha Mitra & Robert Prasch
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Objective: This article investigates the impact of increasing global integration on economic growth, emphasizing its interaction with the level of ethnic heterogeneity in a society.

Methods: We perform a feasible generalized least squares estimation of a random effects model on a longitudinal sample of 103 countries taken over the period 1992–2005.

Results: We find that economic globalization has generally had a beneficial impact on economic growth. We also find that societies marked by greater ethnic heterogeneity have gained more from global integration. Further, while ethnic heterogeneity has been a significant impediment to growth over the sample period, religious and linguistic heterogeneity have not. Finally, we find that democracies have significantly outperformed autocracies over this period.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that globalization may have a role in redressing the detrimental impact of ethnic cleavages in a society.

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The more the merrier? Evidence on quality of life and population size using historical mines

Stefan Leknes
Regional Science and Urban Economics, September 2015, Pages 1–17

Abstract:
I investigate the relationship between population size and quality of life. The quantity and quality of consumer amenities will increase with urban scale if they are not offset by congestion effects. To deal with endogenous urban scale, I utilize a quasi-experimental design where I exploit the spatial distribution of mineral resources using Norwegian mines from the 12th to the 19th century. The findings suggest that cities become more attractive as a consequence of higher population size.

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Constitutional Rights and Education: An International Comparative Study

Sebastian Edwards & Alvaro Garcia Marin
Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate whether the inclusion of educational rights in political constitutions affects the quality of education. We rely on data for 61 countries that participated in the 2012 PISA tests. Our results are strong and robust to the estimation technique (least squares or instrumental variables): there is no evidence that including the right to education in the constitution has been associated with higher test scores. The quality of education depends on socioeconomic, structural, and policy variables, such as expenditure per student, the teacher-pupil ratio, and families’ background. These results are important for emerging countries that are discussing the adoption of new constitutions, such as Thailand and Chile.

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Neighborhood Sanitation and Infant Mortality

Michael Geruso & Dean Spears
NBER Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
In the developing world, there has been significant policy interest in recent years in ending open defecation — that is, defecation in fields, behind homes, and near roads. This attention is in part motivated by a belief that the private demand for latrines and toilets is below the social optimum. We investigate the infant mortality externalities of poor sanitation by exploiting differences in the demand for latrines between Muslim and Hindu households in India: Indian Muslims, despite being poorer, are 25 percentage points more likely than Indian Hindus to use latrines or toilets. Instrumenting for local sanitation with the religious composition of neighborhoods, we show large infant mortality externalities of neighbors defecating in the open. Estimates of these neighbor effects are similar regardless of the household's own latrine use and own religion. Our findings are informative of the external harm generated by the roughly 1 billion people today who defecate in the open.

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To Kill and Tell? State Power, Criminal Competition, and Drug Violence

Angelica Duran-Martinez
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
Violence is commonly viewed as an inherent attribute of the drug trade. Yet, there is dramatic variation in drug violence within countries afflicted by drug trafficking. This article advances a novel framework that explains how the interaction between two critical variables, the cohesion of the state security apparatus, and the competition in the illegal market determines traffickers’ incentives to employ violence. The analysis introduces a generally overlooked dimension of violence, its visibility. Visibility refers to whether traffickers publicly expose their use of violence or claim responsibility for their attacks. Drawing on fieldwork in five cities in Colombia and Mexico (Cali, Medellin, Ciudad Juárez, Culiacán, and Tijuana), 175 interviews, and a new data set on drug violence, I argue that violence becomes visible and frequent when trafficking organizations compete and the state security apparatus is fragmented. By contrast, violence becomes less visible and less frequent when the criminal market is monopolized and the state security apparatus is cohesive.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Besties

Not so lonely at the top: The relationship between power and loneliness

Adam Waytz et al.
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, September 2015, Pages 69–78

Abstract:
Eight studies found a robust negative relationship between the experience of power and the experience of loneliness. Dispositional power and loneliness were negatively correlated (Study 1). Experimental inductions established causality: we manipulated high versus low power through autobiographical essays, assignment to positions, or control over resources, and found that each manipulation showed that high versus low power decreased loneliness (Studies 2a–2c). We also demonstrated both that low power can increase loneliness and that high power can decrease loneliness by comparing these conditions to a baseline condition (Studies 3–4, 6). Furthermore, we establish a key mechanism that explains this effect, demonstrating that the need to belong mediates the effect of power on loneliness (Studies 5–6). These findings help explain some effects of power on social cognition, offer insights into organizational well-being and motivation, and speak to the fundamental question of whether it is “lonely at the top” or lonelier at the bottom.

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Differences in Expressivity Based on Attractiveness: Target or Perceiver Effects?

Jennifer Rennels & Andrea Kayl
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2015, Pages 163–172

Abstract:
A significant association exists between adults’ expressivity and facial attractiveness, but it is unclear whether the association is linear or significant only at the extremes of attractiveness. It is also unclear whether attractive persons actually display more positive expressivity than unattractive persons (target effects) or whether high and low attractiveness influences expressivity valence judgments (perceiver effects). Experiment 1 demonstrated adult ratings of attractiveness were predictive of expressivity valence only for high and low attractive females and medium attractive males. Experiment 2 showed that low attractive females actually display more negative expressivity than medium and high attractive females, but there were no target effects for males. Also, attractiveness influenced expressivity valence judgments (perceiver effects) for both females and males. Our findings demonstrate that low attractive females are at a particular disadvantage during social interactions due to their low attractiveness, actual displays of negative expressivity, and perceptions of their negative expressivity.

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Contagious yawning and psychopathy

Brian Rundle, Vanessa Vaughn & Matthew Stanford
Personality and Individual Differences, November 2015, Pages 33–37

Abstract:
Psychopathy is characterized by a general antisocial lifestyle with behaviors including being selfish, manipulative, impulsive, fearless, callous, possibly domineering, and particularly lacking in empathy. Contagious yawning in our species has been strongly linked to empathy. We exposed 135 students, male and female, who completed the Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Revised (PPI-R), to a yawning paradigm intended to induce a reactionary yawn. Further, we exposed males to an emotion-related startle paradigm meant to assess peripheral amygdalar reactivity. We found that scores on the PPI-R subscale Coldheartedness significantly predicted a reduced chance of yawning. Further, we found that emotion-related startle amplitudes were predictive of frequency of contagious yawning. These data suggest that psychopathic traits may be related to the empathic nature of contagious yawning in our species.

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Sugarcoated isolation: Evidence that social avoidance is linked to higher basal glucose levels and higher consumption of glucose

Tsachi Ein-Dor et al.
Frontiers in Psychology, April 2015

Objective: The human brain adjusts its level of effort in coping with various life stressors as a partial function of perceived access to social resources. We examined whether people who avoid social ties maintain a higher fasting basal level of glucose in their bloodstream and consume more sugar-rich food, reflecting strategies to draw more on personal resources when threatened.

Methods: In Study 1 (N = 60), we obtained fasting blood glucose and adult attachment orientations data. In Study 2 (N = 285), we collected measures of fasting blood glucose and adult attachment orientations from older adults of mixed gender, using a measure of attachment style different from Study 1. In Study 3 (N = 108), we examined the link between trait-like attachment avoidance, manipulation of an asocial state, and consumption of sugar-rich food. In Study 4 (N = 115), we examined whether manipulating the social network will moderate the effect of attachment avoidance on consumption of sugar-rich food.

Results: In Study 1, fasting blood glucose levels corresponded with higher attachment avoidance scores after statistically adjusting for time of assessment and interpersonal anxiety. For Study 2, fasting blood glucose continued to correspond with higher adult attachment avoidance even after statistically adjusting for interpersonal anxiety, stress indices, age, gender, social support and body mass. In Study 3, people high in attachment avoidance consume more sugar-rich food, especially when reminded of asocial tendencies. Study 4 indicated that after facing a stressful task in the presence of others, avoidant people gather more sugar-rich food than more socially oriented people.

Conclusion: Results are consistent with the suggestion that socially avoidant individuals upwardly adjust their basal glucose levels and consume more glucose-rich food with the expectation of increased personal effort because of limited access to social resources. Further investigation of this link is warranted.

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Face-trait inferences show robust child-adult agreement: Evidence from three types of faces

E.J. Cogsdill & M.R. Banaji
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2015, Pages 150–156

Abstract:
Humans rapidly and automatically use facial appearance to attribute personality traits (“trustworthy,” “competent”). To what extent is this face-to-trait attribution learned gradually across development versus early in childhood? Here, we demonstrate that child-adult concordance occurs even when faces should minimize agreement: natural (not computer-generated) adult faces; less developed children’s faces; and perceptually unfamiliar monkey faces. In Study 1, 3- to 12-year-olds and adults selected “nice/mean” faces among pairs with a priori “nice-mean” ratings. Significant cross-age consensus emerged for all three face types. Study 2 replicated this result using an improved procedure in which 44–48 faces appeared in randomized pairs. This converging evidence supports the idea that complex forms of social cognition – allowing perceivers to believe they can derive personality from faces – emerge early in childhood, a finding that calls for new procedures to detect this central facet of cognition earlier in life.

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Feeling High but Playing Low: Power, Need to Belong, and Submissive Behavior

Kimberly Rios, Nathanael Fast & Deborah Gruenfeld
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Past research has demonstrated a causal relationship between power and dominant behavior, motivated in part by the desire to maintain the social distinctiveness created by one’s position of power. In this article, we test the novel idea that some individuals respond to high-power roles by displaying not dominance but instead submissiveness. We theorize that high-power individuals who are also high in the need to belong experience the social distinctiveness associated with power as threatening, rather than as an arrangement to protect and maintain. We predict that such individuals will counter their feelings of threat with submissive behaviors to downplay their power and thereby reduce their distinctiveness. We found support for this hypothesis across three studies using different operationalizations of power, need to belong, and submissiveness. Furthermore, Study 3 illustrated the mediating role of fear of (positive) attention in the relationship between power, need to belong, and submissive behavior.

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Who compares and despairs? The effect of social comparison orientation on social media use and its outcomes

Erin Vogel et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, November 2015, Pages 249–256

Abstract:
People vary in their tendencies to compare themselves to others, an individual difference variable called social comparison orientation (SCO). Social networking sites provide information about others that can be used for social comparison. The goal of the present set of studies was to explore the relationship between SCO, Facebook use, and negative psychological outcomes. Studies 1a and 1b used correlational approaches and showed that participants high (vs. low) in SCO exhibited heavier Facebook use. Study 2 used an experimental approach and revealed that participants high in SCO had poorer self-perceptions, lower self-esteem, and more negative affect balance than their low-SCO counterparts after engaging in brief social comparisons on Facebook. SCO did not have as strong or consistent effects for participants engaging in control tasks. Results are discussed in the context of extant literature and the impact of social media use on well-being.

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The development of adolescents’ friendships and antipathies: A longitudinal multivariate network test of balance theory

Ashwin Rambaran et al.
Social Networks, October 2015, Pages 162–176

Abstract:
We examined the interplay between friendship (best friend) and antipathy (dislike) relationships among adolescents (N = 480; 11–14 years) in two US middle schools over three years (grades 6, 7, and 8). Using longitudinal multivariate network analysis (RSiena), the effects of friendships on antipathies and vice versa were tested, while structural network effects (e.g., density, reciprocity, and transitivity) and individual (age, gender, and ethnicity) and behavioral (prosocial and antisocial behavior) dispositions were controlled for. Based on (structural) balance theory, it was expected that friendships would be formed or maintained when two adolescents disliked the same person (shared enemy hypothesis), that friends would tend to agree on whom they disliked (friends’ agreement hypothesis), that adolescents would tend to dislike the friends of those they disliked (reinforced animosity hypothesis), and, finally, that they would become or stay friends with dislikes of dislikes (enemy's enemy hypothesis). Support was found for the first three hypotheses, and partially for the fourth hypothesis. Results are discussed in light of adolescents’ peer relationships.

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I need you closer to me: Effects of affiliation goals on perceptions of interpersonal distance

Mariëlle Stel & Guido van Koningsbruggen
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
People's perceptions are often distorted in a way that aligns with their desires and goals. We argue that having a goal to affiliate changes the perception of interpersonal distance in a way that may help to fulfil this affiliation goal. As other people are goal-relevant when having an affiliation goal, we expected that people with affiliation goals would estimate the distance between themselves and another person as smaller than people with no affiliation goals. In two studies, we manipulated affiliation goals by priming participants with affiliation or control words. Our main dependent variable was the estimated interpersonal distance between themselves and the experimenter. Results showed that participants primed with affiliation estimated the interpersonal distance as smaller compared with participants primed with control words. We did not obtain reliable differences between the affiliation and control conditions on other distance and height estimations. Our results suggest that having or not having affiliation goals influences people's perception of the distance between them and other people.

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Differential Effects of Oxytocin on Agency and Communion for Anxiously and Avoidantly Attached Individuals

Jennifer Bartz et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Oxytocin promotes prosocial behavior, especially in those individuals who are low in affiliation (e.g., avoidantly attached individuals), but can exacerbate interpersonal insecurities in those preoccupied with closeness (e.g., anxiously attached individuals). One explanation for these opposing observations is that oxytocin induces a communal, other-orientation. Becoming more other oriented should help those people who focus on the self to the exclusion of others, but could be detrimental to those who are other focused but have little sense of an agentic self. Using a within-subjects design, we administered intranasal oxytocin and placebo to 40 males and measured their agency (self-orientation) and communion (other-orientation). Oxytocin produced a slight increase in communion for the average participant; however, as predicted, avoidantly attached individuals were especially likely to perceive themselves as more communal (“kind,” “warm,” “gentle,” etc.) after receiving oxytocin than after receiving the placebo. There was no main effect of oxytocin on agency for the average participant; however, anxiously attached individuals showed a selective decrease in agency (“independent,” “self-confident,” etc.) following administration of oxytocin. These data help explain the complex social effects of oxytocin.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Light and transient causes

The self-control consequences of political ideology

Joshua Clarkson et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Evidence from three studies reveals a critical difference in self-control as a function of political ideology. Specifically, greater endorsement of political conservatism (versus liberalism) was associated with greater attention regulation and task persistence. Moreover, this relationship is shown to stem from varying beliefs in freewill; specifically, the association between political ideology and self-control is mediated by differences in the extent to which belief in freewill is endorsed, is independent of task performance or motivation, and is reversed when freewill is perceived to impede (rather than enhance) self-control. Collectively, these findings offer insight into the self-control consequences of political ideology by detailing conditions under which conservatives and liberals are better suited to engage in self-control and outlining the role of freewill beliefs in determining these conditions.

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The Attentional Cost of Receiving a Cell Phone Notification

Cary Stothart, Ainsley Mitchum & Courtney Yehnert
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, forthcoming

Abstract:
It is well documented that interacting with a mobile phone is associated with poorer performance on concurrently performed tasks because limited attentional resources must be shared between tasks. However, mobile phones generate auditory or tactile notifications to alert users of incoming calls and messages. Although these notifications are generally short in duration, they can prompt task-irrelevant thoughts, or mind wandering, which has been shown to damage task performance. We found that cellular phone notifications alone significantly disrupted performance on an attention-demanding task, even when participants did not directly interact with a mobile device during the task. The magnitude of observed distraction effects was comparable in magnitude to those seen when users actively used a mobile phone, either for voice calls or text messaging.

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A Series of Meta-Analytic Tests of the Depletion Effect: Self-Control Does Not Seem to Rely on a Limited Resource

Evan Carter et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Failures of self-control are thought to underlie various important behaviors (e.g., addiction, violence, obesity, poor academic achievement). The modern conceptualization of self-control failure has been heavily influenced by the idea that self-control functions as if it relied upon a limited physiological or cognitive resource. This view of self-control has inspired hundreds of experiments designed to test the prediction that acts of self-control are more likely to fail when they follow previous acts of self-control (the depletion effect). Here, we evaluated the empirical evidence for this effect with a series of focused, meta-analytic tests that address the limitations in prior appraisals of the evidence. We find very little evidence that the depletion effect is a real phenomenon, at least when assessed with the methods most frequently used in the laboratory. Our results strongly challenge the idea that self-control functions as if it relies on a limited psychological or physical resource.

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Implicit Theories About Willpower Predict the Activation of a Rest Goal Following Self-Control Exertion

Veronika Job et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Past research indicates that peoples' implicit theories about the nature of willpower moderate the ego-depletion effect. Only people who believe or were led to believe that willpower is a limited resource (limited-resource theory) showed lower self-control performance after an initial demanding task. As of yet, the underlying processes explaining this moderating effect by theories about willpower remain unknown. Here, we propose that the exertion of self-control activates the goal to preserve and replenish mental resources (rest goal) in people with a limited-resource theory. Five studies tested this hypothesis. In Study 1, individual differences in implicit theories about willpower predicted increased accessibility of a rest goal after self-control exertion. Furthermore, measured (Study 2) and manipulated (Study 3) willpower theories predicted an increased preference for rest-conducive objects. Finally, Studies 4 and 5 provide evidence that theories about willpower predict actual resting behavior: In Study 4, participants who held a limited-resource theory took a longer break following self-control exertion than participants with a nonlimited-resource theory. Longer resting time predicted decreased rest goal accessibility afterward. In Study 5, participants with an induced limited-resource theory sat longer on chairs in an ostensible product-testing task when they had engaged in a task requiring self-control beforehand. This research provides consistent support for a motivational shift toward rest after self-control exertion in people holding a limited-resource theory about willpower.

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Medication Use Among Teens and Young Adults

Michael Johansen, Kathleen Matic & Ann Scheck McAlearney
Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine rates of stimulant/atomoxetine use among teens (aged 12-17 years) and young adults (aged 18-23 years) and to investigate associations in medication use before and after the transition from teen to young adult.

Methods: Repeated cross-sectional analyses using the nationally representative Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. The sample included all teens and young adults between 2003 and 2012. Within this group, a staggered sample of individuals between 2006 and 2012 born during a 5-year range was used to minimize false positive findings due to temporal trends. The primary outcome was attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication use (two or more prescriptions and ?60 tablets). A multivariable logistic regression was utilized to determine associations between ADHD medication use and race/ethnicity and other sociodemographic factors.

Results: A total of 62,699 individuals were included between 2003 and 2012. Rates of ADHD medication use increased for both teens (4.2%-6.0%) and young adults (1.2%-2.6%) between 2003-2004 and 2011-2012. In adjusted analysis, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians had lower rates of use compared with whites. The decrease in use among young adults was more pronounced among blacks compared with whites. A usual source of care and health insurance were less common among young adults, and both were associated with ADHD medication use.

Conclusions: Although there has been an increase in the use of ADHD medications in both teens and young adults, we found a drop-off in levels of ADHD treatment among young adults when compared with teens. A portion of this decrease appears to be related to race/ethnicity, usual source of care, and health insurance status.

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Napping to modulate frustration and impulsivity: A pilot study

Jennifer Goldschmied et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, November 2015, Pages 164-167

Abstract:
Recent research has shown that napping can increase positive mood, and improve immune functioning, demonstrating the additional benefits of naps beyond reducing sleepiness and fatigue. Because prolonged wakefulness is becoming more common, it is becoming increasingly important to identify effective approaches to decrease resultant cognitive deficiencies. The present study aimed to examine the impact of a brief, midday nap on an aspect of executive functioning, emotional control. 40 subjects were randomized into a nap or no-nap condition, and emotional control was measured with a self-report impulsivity measure and frustration tolerance task. Results revealed that nappers showed a decrease in self-reported impulsivity and increased tolerance for frustration, while those in the no-nap condition showed the opposite pattern. These results indicate that emotional control may become impaired from wakefulness that builds across the day, and that napping may be an effective countermeasure.

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Time pressure reverses risk preferences

Najam Saqib & Eugene Chan
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, September 2015, Pages 58-68

Abstract:
In this research, we offer the hypothesis that time pressure reverses risk preferences. That is, people are typically risk-averse over gains and risk-seeking over losses, as predicted by prospect theory, but we propose that people under time pressure are risk-seeking over gains and risk-averse over losses. This is because people under time pressure perceive the maximal possible outcome - that is, the best possible gain over gains and the worst possible loss over losses - to be more likely to occur, such that they use it as their reference point and not the status quo to evaluate all other outcomes. As such, they perceive intermediary gains relative to the best possible gain as relative losses, which results in risk-seeking, and they perceive intermediary losses relative to the worst possible loss as relative gains, which results in risk-aversion. We conclude by situating our research among prior work generally and with prospect theory specifically.

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Effect of Casino-Related Sound, Red Light and Pairs on Decision-Making During the Iowa Gambling Task

Damien Brevers et al.
Journal of Gambling Studies, June 2015, Pages 409-421

Abstract:
Casino venues are often characterized by "warm" colors, reward-related sounds, and the presence of others. These factors have always been identified as a key factor in energizing gambling. However, few empirical studies have examined their impact on gambling behaviors. Here, we aimed to explore the impact of combined red light and casino-related sounds, with or without the presence of another participant, on gambling-related behaviors. Gambling behavior was estimated with the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). Eighty non-gamblers participants took part in one of four experimental conditions (20 participants in each condition); (1) IGT without casino-related sound and under normal (white) light (control), (2) IGT with combined casino-related sound and red light (casino alone), (3) IGT with combined casino-related sound, red light and in front of another participant (casino competition - implicit), and (4) IGT with combined casino-related sound, red light and against another participant (casino competition - explicit). Results showed that, in contrast to the control condition, participants in the three "casino" conditions did not exhibit slower deck selection reaction time after losses than after rewards. Moreover, participants in the two "competition" conditions displayed lowered deck selection reaction time after losses and rewards, as compared with the control and the "casino alone" conditions. These findings suggest that casino environment may diminish the time used for reflecting and thinking before acting after losses. These findings are discussed along with the methodological limitations, potential directions for future studies, as well as implications to enhance prevention strategies of abnormal gambling.

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Happiness increases verbal and spatial working memory capacity where sadness does not: Emotion, working memory and executive control

Justin Storbeck & Raeya Maswood
Cognition & Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
The effects of emotion on working memory and executive control are often studied in isolation. Positive mood enhances verbal and impairs spatial working memory, whereas negative mood enhances spatial and impairs verbal working memory. Moreover, positive mood enhances executive control, whereas negative mood has little influence. We examined how emotion influences verbal and spatial working memory capacity, which requires executive control to coordinate between holding information in working memory and completing a secondary task. We predicted that positive mood would improve both verbal and spatial working memory capacity because of its influence on executive control. Positive, negative and neutral moods were induced followed by completing a verbal (Experiment 1) or spatial (Experiment 2) working memory operation span task to assess working memory capacity. Positive mood enhanced working memory capacity irrespective of the working memory domain, whereas negative mood had no influence on performance. Thus, positive mood was more successful holding information in working memory while processing task-irrelevant information, suggesting that the influence mood has on executive control supersedes the independent effects mood has on domain-specific working memory.

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Risk taking, behavioral biases and genes: Results from 149 active investors

Anders Anderson, Anna Dreber & Roine Vestman
Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance, June 2015, Pages 93-100

Abstract:
Recent evidence suggests that there is genetic basis for economic behaviors, including preferences for risk taking. We correlate variation in risk taking and behavioral biases with two genetic polymorphisms related to the uptake of dopamine and serotonin (7R+ DRD4 and s/s 5-HTTLPR), hypothesizing that they are positively (negatively) related to risk taking. We use a small but detailed sample of active investors where we combine survey data with DNA samples and data from Swedish tax records that give us objective information about actual economic choices. We find a positive (negative) relationship between the dopamine (serotonin) gene and life expectancy bias, but no other significant correlations between the two genes and behaviors, including risk taking and measures of equity holdings. We acknowledge that our tests suffer from low power originating from the small sample size, which warrants some caution when interpreting these results.

By KEVIN LEWIS

Friday, July 3, 2015

Rebels without a cause

The Effects of Asset Forfeiture on Policing: A Panel Approach

Brian Kelly & Maureen Kole
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
Asset forfeiture has proven highly controversial in the United States since its expansion in 1984. Most contentious is the widespread policy that allows police agencies to keep the assets seized, which both proponents and critics assert changes police behavior. From newly developed panel data sets, we find some statistical support for the proposition that police agencies change the intensity and pattern of policing in response to forfeiture. However, in economic terms these effects are very weak and do not support the proposition that forfeiture provides vital funds and incentives for crime policing.

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Disentangling the Effects of Racial Self-identification and Classification by Others: The Case of Arrest

Andrew Penner & Aliya Saperstein
Demography, June 2015, Pages 1017-1024

Abstract:
Scholars of race have stressed the importance of thinking about race as a multidimensional construct, yet research on racial inequality does not routinely take this multidimensionality into account. We draw on data from the U.S. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to disentangle the effects of self-identifying as black and being classified by others as black on subsequently being arrested. Results reveal that the odds of arrest are nearly three times higher for people who were classified by others as black, even if they did not identify themselves as black. By contrast, we find no effect of self-identifying as black among people who were not seen by others as black. These results suggest that racial perceptions play an important role in racial disparities in arrest rates and provide a useful analytical approach for disentangling the effects of race on other outcomes.

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Stereotype Threat and Racial Differences in Citizens’ Experiences of Police Encounters

Cynthia Najdowski, Bette Bottoms & Phillip Atiba Goff
Law and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
We conducted 2 studies to investigate how cultural stereotypes that depict Blacks as criminals affect the way Blacks experience encounters with police officers, expecting that such encounters induce Blacks to feel stereotype threat (i.e., concern about being judged and treated unfairly by police because of the stereotype). In Study 1, we asked Black and White participants to report how they feel when interacting with police officers in general. As predicted, Blacks, but not Whites, reported concern that police officers stereotype them as criminals simply because of their race. In addition, this effect was found for Black men but not Black women. In Study 2, we asked Black and White men to imagine a specific police encounter and assessed potential downstream consequences of stereotype threat. Consistent with Study 1, Black but not White men anticipated feeling stereotype threat in the hypothetical police encounter. Further, racial differences in anticipated threat translated into racial differences in anticipated anxiety, self-regulatory efforts, and behavior that is commonly perceived as suspicious by police officers. By demonstrating that Blacks might expect to be judged and treated unfairly by police because of the negative stereotype of Black criminality, this research extends stereotype threat theory to the new domain of criminal justice encounters. It also has practical implications for understanding how the stereotype could ironically contribute to bias-based policing and racial disparities in the justice system.

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The Unintended Effects of Penal Reform: African American Presence, Incarceration, and the Abolition of Discretionary Parole in the United States

Andres Rengifo & Don Stemen
Crime & Delinquency, June 2015, Pages 719-741

Abstract:
The authors use a pooled-time series design to examine the interplay between state incarceration rates, determinate sentencing, and the size of the African American population between 1978 and 2004. Consistent with prior research, findings show that larger Black populations are associated with higher incarceration rates but that this association has weakened over time. Results also indicate that determinate sentencing is associated with lower imprisonment rates. The interaction between a higher proportion of African American residents and determinate sentencing, however, is associated with higher incarceration rates, suggesting that in states with greater minority presence the abolition of discretionary parole amplifies the impact of punitive responses linked to racial threat. It is argued that this unintended effect reflects the fact that formal constraints on release decision making reduce the ability of justice systems to administer greater punishments to specific subpopulations.

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The Economics of Counterfeiting

Elena Quercioli & Lones Smith
Econometrica, May 2015, Pages 1211–1236

Abstract:
We develop a strategic theory of counterfeiting as a multi-market large game. Bad guys choose whether to counterfeit, and what quality to produce. Opposing them is a continuum of good guys who select a costly verification effort. In equilibrium, counterfeiters produce better quality at higher notes, but verifiers try sufficiently harder that verification still improves. We develop a graphical framework for deducing comparative statics. Passed and counterfeiting rates vanish for low and high notes. Our predictions are consistent with time series and cross-sectional patterns in a unique data set assembled largely from the Secret Service.

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School Suspension and the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Alison Evans Cuellar & Sara Markowitz
International Review of Law and Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Schools have many available strategies to address problem behavior among students. One option increasingly used by schools is to suspend problem youth and remove them for defined periods. The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether this type of disciplinary policy has unintended consequences by giving problem youth greater opportunity to commit crimes outside of school. Previous studies have looked at the “incapacitation” effect of school holidays and teacher strike days, but these studies do not directly address the relevant school policy decisions. The current study relies on administrative data from a school district and a juvenile justice system. The results indicate that out-of-school suspension may increase criminal offending behavior by problem youth, more than doubling the probability of arrest. The effect is particularly large among African American youth, relative to Whites.

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Housing Choice Voucher Holders and Neighborhood Crime: A Dynamic Panel Analysis from Chicago

Leah Hendey et al.
Urban Affairs Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
It is often alleged that households moving into neighborhoods with the aid of housing choice vouchers (HCVs) raise crime rates there. We use 1999–2008 quarterly data from Chicago census tracts to test this allegation with a dynamic panel model designed to overcome the challenges of omitted variable and endogeneity biases. We find no support for the proposition that growth in HCV holders leads to growth in violent crime rates, regardless of neighborhood context. We find that growth in HCV holders is positively associated with growth in property crime rates, however, in higher poverty neighborhoods or if HCVs exceed a threshold concentration.

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Public and Private Spheres of Neighborhood Disorder: Assessing Pathways to Violence Using Large-scale Digital Records

Daniel Tumminelli O’Brien & Robert Sampson
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, July 2015, Pages 486-510

Objectives: “Broken windows” theory is an influential model of neighborhood change, but there is disagreement over whether public disorder leads to more serious crime. This article distinguishes between public and private disorder, arguing that large-scale administrative data provide new opportunities to examine broken windows theory and alternative models of neighborhood change.

Method: We apply an ecometric methodology to two databases from Boston: 1,000,000+ 911 dispatches and indicators of physical disorder from 200,000+ requests for nonemergency services. Both distinguish between disorder in public and private spaces. A cross-lag longitudinal analysis was conducted using two full years of data (2011–2012).

Results: The two databases provided six dimensions of physical and social disorder and crime. The cross-lag model revealed eight pathways by which one form of disorder or crime in 2011 predicted a significant increase in another in 2012. Although traditional interpretations of broken windows emphasize the role of public disorder, private conflict most strongly predicted future crime.

Conclusions: Our results describe a social escalation model where future disorder and crime emerge not from public cues but from private disorder within the community, demonstrating how “big data” from administrative records, when properly measured and interpreted, represent a growing resource for studying neighborhood change.

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Alcohol misuse, firearm violence perpetration, and public policy in the United States

Garen Wintemute
Preventive Medicine, forthcoming

Objective: Firearm violence is a significant public health problem in the United States, and alcohol is frequently involved. This article reviews existing research on the relationships between alcohol misuse; ownership, access to, and use of firearms; and the commission of firearm violence, and discusses the policy implications of these findings.

Method: Narrative review augmented by new tabulations of publicly-available data.

Results: Acute and chronic alcohol misuse is positively associated with firearm ownership, risk behaviors involving firearms, and risk for perpetrating both interpersonal and self-directed firearm violence. In an average month, an estimated 8.9 to 11.7 million firearm owners binge drink. For men, deaths from alcohol-related firearm violence equal those from alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes. Enforceable policies restricting access to firearms for persons who misuse alcohol are uncommon. Policies that restrict access on the basis of other risk factors have been shown to reduce risk for subsequent violence.

Conclusion: The evidence suggests that restricting access to firearms for persons with a documented history of alcohol misuse would be an effective violence prevention measure. Restrictions should rely on unambiguous definitions of alcohol misuse to facilitate enforcement and should be rigorously evaluated.

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Firearm Ownership and Violent Crime in the U.S.: An Ecologic Study

Michael Monuteaux et al.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, forthcoming

Introduction: Although some view the ownership of firearms as a deterrent to crime, the relationship between population-level firearm ownership rates and violent criminal perpetration is unclear. The purpose of this study is to test the association between state-level firearm ownership and violent crime.

Methods: State-level rates of household firearm ownership and annual rates of criminal acts from 2001, 2002, and 2004 were analyzed in 2014. Firearm ownership rates were taken from a national survey and crime data were taken from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports. Rates of criminal behavior were estimated as a function of household gun ownership using negative binomial regression models, controlling for several demographic factors.

Results: Higher levels of firearm ownership were associated with higher levels of firearm assault and firearm robbery. There was also a significant association between firearm ownership and firearm homicide, as well as overall homicide.

Conclusions: The findings do not support the hypothesis that higher population firearm ownership rates reduce firearm-associated criminal perpetration. On the contrary, evidence shows that states with higher levels of firearm ownership have an increased risk for violent crimes perpetrated with a firearm. Public health stakeholders should consider the outcomes associated with private firearm ownership.

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Can Easing Concealed Carry Deter Crime?

David Fortunato
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Objective: Laws reducing hurdles to legally carrying concealed firearms are argued to have a deterrent effect on crime by increasing its perceived costs. This argument rests on the assumption that these policies will either directly or indirectly increase the perceived distribution of firearm carriers, an assumption that is as yet untested. This article tests this assumption and, in so doing, suggests testing the necessary conditions of policy can be useful when assessing outcomes is difficult.

Methods: I collect survey data on the perceived number of firearm carriers across the United States and then use a hierarchical regression model to assess the impact of concealed carry policies on these perceptions, controlling for several contextual and individual-level factors.

Results: The data suggest that there is no statistically discernible relationship between concealed carry policies and the public's perceptions of the number of firearm carriers. Indeed, the data suggest that the perceived density of firearm carriers is similarly uncorrelated to the number of active concealed carriers.

Conclusion: The link between concealed carry policy and people's beliefs about the number of firearm carriers in their community is unidentifiable in the data. The rationale for concealed carry deterrence, however, depends on such a link existing: it assumes that potential assailants are aware of the distribution of firearm carriers in the potential victim population, but the empirical evidence presented here suggests that that assumption simply does not hold. Because beliefs over the distribution of firearm carriers are impervious to permitting policies and do not respond positively to the true distribution of carriers, the data suggest easing concealed carry cannot deter crime.

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Assessing the “Statistical Accuracy” of the National Incident-Based Reporting System Hate Crime Data

James Nolan et al.
American Behavioral Scientist, forthcoming

Abstract:
The current study introduces a method to assess hate crime classification error in a state Incident-Based Reporting System. The study identifies and quantifies the “statistical accuracy” of aggregate hate crime data and provides insight from frontline officers about thought processes involved with classifying bias offenses. Random samples of records from two city and two county agencies provided data for the study. A systematic review of official case narratives determined hate crime classification error using state and federal definitions. A focus group sought to inquire about officers’ handling of hate crimes. Undercounting of hate crimes in official data was evident. When error rates were extrapolated, National Incident-Based Reporting System Group A hate crimes were undercounted by 67%. Officers’ responses validated complications involved with classifying hate crimes, particularly, incidents motivated “in part” by bias. Classification errors in reporting hate crimes have an impact on the statistical accuracy of official hate crime statistics. Officers’ offense descriptions provided greater awareness to issues with accurately interpreting and classifying hate crimes. The results yield useful information for officer training, understanding the true magnitude of these crimes, and a precursor for adjusting crime statistics to better estimate the “true” number of hate crimes in the population.

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Sexual Victimization Among College Women: Role of Sexual Assertiveness and Resistance Variables

Erika Kelley, Lindsay Orchowski & Christine Gidycz
Psychology of Violence, forthcoming

Objective: College women are at high risk for sexual assault, especially women with a history of sexual victimization. The present study uses a longitudinal design to explore the role of sexual assertiveness, psychological barriers to resistance, and resistance self-efficacy as putative mediators between prior sexual victimization and sexual revictimization among a sample of 296 college women.

Method: Women completed assessments of sexual victimization since the age of 14, as well as putative mediator variables at a baseline assessment. Sexual revictimization was assessed over a 7-month interim.

Results: Results of structural equation modeling indicated that the relationship between baseline and follow-up sexual assault was mediated by the study variables. Follow-up analyses suggested that sexual assertiveness served as a particularly salient mediator.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that increasing women’s sexual assertiveness skills may be a particularly important component of reducing risk for sexual revictimization among women with a history of assault.

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Public Officials and a “Private” Matter: Attitudes and Policies in the County Sheriff Office Regarding Violence Against Women

Emily Farris & Mirya Holman
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Objective: This article examines sheriffs’ attitudes and their offices’ policies concerning violence against women and assesses the connection between their attitudes and policies.

Methods: Using data from an original, national survey completed in the fall of 2012 of elected sheriffs (N = 553), we evaluate a battery of rape and domestic violence myths and examine the presence of various violence against women policies.

Results: We find that many sheriffs express belief in inaccurate myths concerning violence against women. We find strong connections between sheriffs’ attitudes about women's equality and their attitudes about violence against women. In turn, their attitudes about gender-based violence relate to training and policies for addressing these cases.

Conclusion: In an office like that of the sheriff, with both bureaucratic and political elements, attitudes of political leaders influence policies. Our findings suggest an important connection between elected officials’ attitudes and policy actions beyond the traditional legislative arena.

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The Beheading of Criminal Organizations and the Dynamics of Violence in Mexico

Gabriela Calderón et al.
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
In 2006, the Mexican government launched an aggressive campaign to weaken drug-trafficking organizations (DTOs). The security policies differed significantly from those of previous administrations in the use of a leadership strategy (the targeting for arrest of the highest levels or core leadership of criminal networks). While these strategies can play an important role in disrupting the targeted criminal organization, they can also have unintended consequences, increasing inter-cartel and intra-cartel fighting and fragmenting criminal organizations. What impact do captures of senior drug cartel members have on the dynamics of drug-related violence? Does it matter if governments target drug kingpins versus lower-ranked lieutenants? We analyze whether the captures or killings of kingpins and lieutenants have increased drug-related violence and whether the violence spills over spatially. To estimate effects that are credibly causal, we use different empirical strategies that combine difference-in-differences and synthetic control group methods. We find evidence that captures or killings of drug cartel leaders have exacerbating effects not only on DTO-related violence but also on homicides that affect the general population. Captures or killings of lieutenants, for their part, only seem to exacerbate violence in “strategic places” or municipalities located in the transportation network. While most of the effects on DTO-related violence are found in the first six months after a leader’s removal, effects on homicides affecting the rest of the population are more enduring, suggesting different mechanisms through which leadership neutralizations breed violence.

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Responding to probation and parole violations: Are jail sanctions more effective than community-based graduated sanctions?

Eric Wodahl, John Boman & Brett Garland
Journal of Criminal Justice, May–June 2015, Pages 242–250

Purpose: In response to escalating revocation rates in community supervision, many jurisdictions have adopted graduated sanction policies. Research on graduated sanctions has shown promising results. However, most studies focus exclusively on jail sanctions and have largely ignored the possibility that community-based graduated sanctions such as written assignments, increased treatment participation, or community service hours may be as effective, or more effective, than jail sanctions. Extending this research, the current study examines whether community-based sanctions are as effective in increasing offender compliance as spending time in jail.

Methods: Using data from over 800 violations committed by a random sample of probationers and parolees on intensive supervision probation, multilevel models are estimated that examine whether jail sanctions are more effective than community sanctions in 1) extending time to the offender’s next violation event, 2) reducing the number of future violations, and 3) successfully completing the probation program.

Results: Results consistently indicate that jail sanctions do not outperform community-based sanctions.

Conclusion: Due to the financial, social, and potentially criminogenic effects of jail, the lack of significant differences between jail sanctions and community-based sanctions calls into question the use of jail as a means of punishing persons on community supervision.

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The Weed and Seed Program: A Nationwide Analysis of Crime Outcomes

David Lilley
Criminal Justice Policy Review, July 2015, Pages 423-447

Abstract:
The Weed and Seed program was created to target high-crime neighborhoods with sustained and intensive enforcement and community restoration resources. At present, however, no nationwide assessment of crime outcomes has yet been conducted comparing all jurisdictions that implemented this program with those that did not. This study conducted a series of panel data analyses to compare every Weed and Seed jurisdiction with 250 randomly selected, matched comparison locations nationwide from 1990 through 2004 to assess the impact of this program on Uniform Crime Report Part I felony offenses. In this first evaluation of crime outcomes among all Weed and Seed jurisdictions nationwide, results from five different quasi-experimental and panel data analyses indicated that the program was associated with reductions in robbery, burglary, and vehicle theft. In addition, the level of impact of the Weed and Seed program was similar to more expensive Department of Justice programs from the Office of Community-Oriented Policing, and Local Law Enforcement Block Grants.

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Economic Impact of Multisystemic Therapy With Juvenile Sexual Offenders

Charles Borduin & Alex Dopp
Journal of Family Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study investigated the economics of multisystemic therapy for problem sexual behaviors (MST-PSB), a family-based treatment that has shown promise with juvenile sexual offenders. We evaluated the cost and benefits of MST-PSB versus usual community services using arrest data obtained in an 8.9-year follow-up from a randomized clinical trial with 48 juvenile sexual offenders, who averaged 22.9 years of age at follow-up (Borduin, Schaeffer, & Heiblum, 2009). The net benefit of MST-PSB over usual community services was calculated in terms of (a) the value to taxpayers, which was based on measures of criminal justice system expenses (e.g., police and sheriff’s offices, court processing, community supervision); and (b) the value to crime victims, which was based on measures of both tangible (e.g., property damage and loss, health care, lost productivity) and intangible (e.g., pain, suffering, reduced quality of life) losses. Lower rates of posttreatment arrests in the MST-PSB versus usual community services conditions were associated with lasting reductions in expenses for both taxpayers and crime victims, with an estimated total benefit of $343,455 per MST-PSB participant. Stated differently, every dollar spent on MST-PSB recovered $48.81 in savings to taxpayers and crime victims over the 8.9-year follow-up. These findings demonstrate that a family-based treatment such as MST-PSB can produce lasting economic benefits with juvenile sexual offenders. Policymakers and public service agencies should consider these findings when making decisions about interventions for this challenging clinical population.

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Assessing the Celerity of Arrest on 3-Year Recidivism Patterns in a Sample of Criminal Defendants

Haley Zettler et al.
Journal of Criminal Justice, forthcoming

Purpose: In an effort to build on celerity research, we use longitudinal data to examine whether celerity, as measured by the amount of time from the commission of an offense to the time of arrest, impacts the likelihood for recidivism.

Methods: Propensity score matching is used to examine how the effects of several different measures of celerity are related to subsequent arrests.

Results: Findings were consistent with assumptions of deterrence theory; experiencing a shorter time between offense and arrest date was related to a significantly lower risk of recidivism, while the effect diminished beyond thirty days.

Conclusions: Results suggest that celerity of arrest may have a small, short-term deterrent effect — a finding that is similar to one from the research on sanction certainty.

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Examining Public Preferences for the Allocation of Resources to Rehabilitative Versus Punitive Crime Policies

Thomas Baker et al.
Criminal Justice Policy Review, July 2015, Pages 448-462

Abstract:
Fear of crime has been recognized as one of the driving forces underlying the punitive turn in the criminal justice system. Despite this, evidence suggests that rehabilitative efforts are still supported by the general public. The current study uses a national random sample to examine the impact of fear on public preference for allocating resources to rehabilitative versus punitive criminal justice system policies. Contrary to prior studies, respondents are forced to make a choice between punitive and rehabilitative options, and both the emotional and cognitive aspects of crime salience — fear of crime and victimization risk — are evaluated to determine their independent and combined impact on crime policy preference. The findings suggest that the majority of the public prefers putting resources toward rehabilitative crime polices, but fear of crime and risk of victimization both reduce this tendency. The implications of our results for current criminal justice system policies are discussed.

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Making the most of second chances: An evaluation of Minnesota's high-risk revocation reduction reentry program

Valerie Clark
Journal of Experimental Criminology, June 2015, Pages 193-215

Objectives: To assess whether a reentry program targeted towards high-risk offenders leaving Minnesota state prisons significantly reduced recidivism.

Methods: Adult male release violators serving incarceration periods of 2–6 months in two Minnesota state prisons were randomly assigned to either the control group (n = 77) or the High-Risk Revocation Reduction (HRRR) program (n = 162). The latter group was provided with supplemental case planning, housing, employment, mentoring, cognitive-behavioral programming, and transportation assistance services, while the former group was given standard case management services. After 1–2 years of post-release follow-up time, event history analysis was used to predict the following four measures of recidivism: supervised release revocation, rearrest, reconviction, and new offense reincarceration.

Results: The Cox regression analyses revealed that participation in HRRR significantly lowered the risk of supervised release revocations and reconvictions by 28 and 43 %, respectively. Regardless of treatment or control group membership, receiving more reentry assistance significantly reduced supervision revocation and rearrest. Analyses also revealed that employment assistance, including subsidized employment, was especially effective at reducing recidivism.

Conclusions: Targeting resources towards this previously under-served population may be useful for lowering overall rates of recidivism. However, a later follow-up analysis is needed to ensure that these results remain over time.

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The Effect of Media Exposure of Suspects on Solving Crime

Dinand Webbink, Judith van Erp & Froukje van Gastel
Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this study we investigate the effect of showing suspects of crime in a TV programme on the probability of apprehension. We exploit exogenous variation in the number of viewers of the crime programme induced by Champions League games broadcasted on competing channels. The estimates show that an increase in the number of viewers of the TV programme increases the probability of solving crime, especially for criminal cases with many potential observers or cases for which it is easier to recognise suspects due to the quality of the images. The implication of our findings is that media can be effectively used for detection of crime suspects.

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Stress and Hardship after Prison

Bruce Western et al.
American Journal of Sociology, March 2015, Pages 1512-1547

Abstract:
The historic increase in U.S. incarceration rates made the transition from prison to community common for poor, prime-age men and women. Leaving prison presents the challenge of social integration—of connecting with family and finding housing and a means of subsistence. The authors study variation in social integration in the first months after prison release with data from the Boston Reentry Study, a unique panel survey of 122 newly released prisoners. The data indicate severe material hardship immediately after incarceration. Over half of sample respondents were unemployed, two-thirds received public assistance, and many relied on female relatives for financial support and housing. Older respondents and those with histories of addiction and mental illness were the least socially integrated, with weak family ties, unstable housing, and low levels of employment. Qualitative interviews show that anxiety and feelings of isolation accompanied extreme material insecurity. Material insecurity combined with the adjustment to social life outside prison creates a stress of transition that burdens social relationships in high-incarceration communities.

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Mass imprisonment and the life course revisited: Cumulative years spent imprisoned and marked for working-age black and white men

Evelyn Patterson & Christopher Wildeman
Social Science Research, September 2015, Pages 325–337

Abstract:
Over the last 40 years, imprisonment has become a common stage in the life-course for low-skilled and minority men, with implications not only for inequality among adult men but also for inequality more broadly. Unfortunately, all research documenting how increases in imprisonment have transformed the life-course of poor, minority men has neglected to estimate how much time black and white men on average spend imprisoned or marked as an ex-prisoner. In this article, we fill this gap by using multistate life tables to estimate what share of their working lives (18–64) black and white men will spend imprisoned and marked as ex-prisoners. Our estimates imply that white men spend on average 0.33 years of their working lives imprisoned and 2.31 years marked, while black men spend on average 1.79 years of their working lives imprisoned and 11.14 years marked. This implies that black men spend on average one-third of their working lives either imprisoned or having been freed but marked by the penal system. For the 32.2% of black men who ever experience imprisonment (Bonczar, 2003), moreover, these estimates imply that they spend on average 5.56 years imprisoned, corresponding to 13.4% of their working lives. Taken together, these findings imply a dramatic reorientation of the life course for black men, as one-third of the black male population will spend one-seventh of their working life in prison.

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Causal Effects of Mental Health Treatment on Education Outcomes for Youth in the Justice System

Alison Evans Cuellar & Dhaval Dave
NBER Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
This study assesses whether mental health interventions can improve academic outcomes for justice-involved youth. Only a limited number of studies have linked justice policies to outcomes beyond crime, particularly education, which carries large monetary and non-monetary benefits. The current study relies on detailed administrative data and unique policy rules under which youth are assigned to behavioral treatment programs. The administrative data allow for a rich set of controls for observed family- and youth-specific heterogeneity. In addition, the treatment assignment rules create a discontinuity among youth who are deemed eligible or not eligible for treatment, rules which the study exploits empirically to address the non-random selection bias in estimating plausibly causal effects of treatment eligibility and treatment receipt. Estimates indicate that certain types of intensive mental health intervention can lower dropout and increase high-school completion for justice-involved youth. Effects on grades are negative or not significant, possibly due to the greater retention of less academically-skilled students. We also assess heterogeneity in the treatment effects, and find that the effects on dropout tend to be greater among youth believed to be less academically engaged prior to treatment.

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Incapacitated and Forcible Rape of College Women: Prevalence Across the First Year

Kate Carey et al.
Journal of Adolescent Health, June 2015, Pages 678–680

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to document the point and cumulative prevalence of incapacitated rape (IR) and forcible rape (FR) among first-year college women.

Methods: Female students (N = 483) completed a health questionnaire (1) on arrival on campus; (2) at the end of the fall semester; (3) at the end of the spring semester; and (4) at the end of the summer following their first year of college.

Results: Before entering college, 18% reported IR (attempted and/or completed), and 15% reported FR (attempted and/or completed). During the first year of college, 15% reported IR (attempted or completed) and 9% reported FR (attempted or completed). By the start of the second year (lifetime prevalence), 26% and 22% had experienced IR and FR (attempted or completed), respectively.

Conclusions: Both incapacitated and forcible sexual assaults and rape have reached epidemic levels among college women. Interventions to address sexual violence on campus are urgently needed.

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Close-Ups and the Scale of Ecology: Land Uses and the Geography of Social Context and Crime

Adam Boessen & John Hipp
Criminology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Whereas one line of recent neighborhood research has placed an emphasis on zooming into smaller units of analysis such as street blocks, another line of research has suggested that even the meso-area of neighborhoods is too narrow and that the area surrounding the neighborhood is also important. Thus, there is a need to examine the scale at which the social ecology impacts crime. We use data from seven cities from around the year 2000 to test our research questions using multilevel negative binomial regression models (N = 73,010 blocks and 8,231 block groups). Our results suggest that although many neighborhood factors seem to operate on the microscale of blocks, others seem to have a much broader impact. In addition, we find that racially and ethnically homogenous blocks within heterogeneous block groups have the most crime. Our findings also show the strongest results for a multitude of land-use measures and that these measures sharpen some of the associations from social characteristics. Thus, we find that accounting for multiple scales simultaneously is important in ecological studies of crime.

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Processed as an Adult: A Regression Discontinuity Estimate of the Crime Effects of Charging Nontransfer Juveniles as Adults

Charles Loeffler & Ben Grunwald
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, forthcoming

Objectives: Test whether processing non-transfer-eligible juvenile arrestees as adults has any effect on their likelihood of criminal recidivism.

Methods: A regression discontinuity design is used to analyze the effect of processing juveniles as adults on a four-year felony rearrest measure using a sample of 78,142 felony drug arrests.

Results: For the felony drug offenders in this sample, processing juveniles as adults reduced the probability of recidivism by 3 to 5 percent. Based on the rapid onset and limited change in size of these effects over the duration of a four-year follow-up as well as the concentration of the effect within a subpopulation having the least risk of incarceration, we attribute this finding to a combination of enhanced deterrence and incapacitation in the adult system.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that processing juveniles in the adult system may not uniformly increase offending and may reduce offending in some circumstances. Our findings also highlight the utility of quasi-experimental research designs for estimating the life-course effects of contact with the criminal justice system.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Blitzed

Exposure to female fertility pheromones influences men’s drinking

Robin Tan & Mark Goldman
Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, June 2015, Pages 139-146

Abstract:
Research has shown that humans consciously use alcohol to encourage sexual activity. In the current study, we investigated whether decision making about alcohol use and sex can be cued outside of awareness by recently revealed sexual signaling mechanisms. Specifically, we examined if males exposed without their knowledge to pheromones emitted by fertile females would increase their alcohol consumption, presumably via neurobehavioral information pathways that link alcohol to sex and mating. We found that men who smelled a T-shirt worn by a fertile female drank significantly more (nonalcoholic) beer, and exhibited significantly greater approach behavior toward female cues, than those who smelled a T-shirt worn by a nonfertile female. These findings reveal previously unknown influences on human alcohol consumption, augment the research base for pheromone cuing of sexual behavior in humans, and raise the possibility that other, as yet unknown, pathways of behavioral influence may be operating hidden from view.

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Parent Involvement, Sibling Companionship, and Adolescent Substance Use: A Longitudinal, Genetically Informed Design

Diana Samek et al.
Journal of Family Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
A large literature shows that parent and sibling relationship factors are associated with an increased likelihood of adolescent substance use. Less is known about the etiology of these associations. Using a genetically informed sibling design, we examined the prospective associations between parent involvement, sibling companionship, and adolescent substance use at 2 points in mid- and late-adolescence. Adolescents were adopted (n = 568) or the biological offspring of both parents (n = 412). Cross-lagged panel results showed that higher levels of parent involvement in early adolescence were associated with lower levels of substance use later in adolescence. Results did not significantly differ across adoption status, suggesting this association cannot be due to passive gene-environment correlation. Adolescent substance use at Time 1 was not significantly associated with parent involvement at Time 2, suggesting this association does not appear to be solely due to evocative (i.e., “child-driven”) effects either. Together, results support a protective influence of parent involvement on subsequent adolescent substance use that is environmental in nature. The cross-paths between sibling companionship and adolescent substance use were significant and negative in direction (i.e., protective) for sisters, but positive for brothers (in line with a social contagion hypothesis). These effects were consistent across genetically related and unrelated pairs, and thus appear to be environmentally mediated. For mixed gender siblings, results were consistent with environmentally driven, protective influence hypothesis for genetically unrelated pairs, but in line with a genetically influenced, social contagion hypothesis for genetically related pairs. Implications are discussed.

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Medical marijuana laws and adolescent marijuana use in the USA from 1991 to 2014: Results from annual, repeated cross-sectional surveys

Deborah Hasin et al.
Lancet Psychiatry, July 2015, Pages 601–608

Background: Adolescent use of marijuana is associated with adverse later effects, so the identification of factors underlying adolescent use is of substantial public health importance. The relationship between US state laws that permit marijuana for medical purposes and adolescent marijuana use has been controversial. Such laws could convey a message about marijuana acceptability that increases its use soon after passage, even if implementation is delayed or the law narrowly restricts its use. We used 24 years of national data from the USA to examine the relationship between state medical marijuana laws and adolescent use of marijuana.

Methods: Using a multistage, random-sampling design with replacement, the Monitoring the Future study conducts annual national surveys of 8th, 10th, and 12th-grade students (modal ages 13–14, 15–16, and 17–18 years, respectively), in around 400 schools per year. Students complete self-administered questionnaires that include questions on marijuana use. We analysed data from 1 098 270 adolescents surveyed between 1991 and 2014. The primary outcome of this analysis was any marijuana use in the previous 30 days. We used multilevel regression modelling with adolescents nested within states to examine two questions. The first was whether marijuana use was higher overall in states that ever passed a medical marijuana law up to 2014. The second was whether the risk of marijuana use changed after passage of medical marijuana laws. Control covariates included individual, school, and state-level characteristics.

Findings: Marijuana use was more prevalent in states that passed a medical marijuana law any time up to 2014 than in other states (adjusted prevalence 15.87% vs 13.27%; adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1.27, 95% CI 1.07–1.51; p=0.0057). However, the risk of marijuana use in states before passing medical marijuana laws did not differ significantly from the risk after medical marijuana laws were passed (adjusted prevalence 16.25% vs 15.45%; adjusted OR 0.92, 95% CI 0.82–1.04; p=0.185). Results were generally robust across sensitivity analyses, including redefining marijuana use as any use in the previous year or frequency of use, and reanalysing medical marijuana laws for delayed effects or for variation in provisions for dispensaries.

Interpretation: Our findings, consistent with previous evidence, suggest that passage of state medical marijuana laws does not increase adolescent use of marijuana. However, overall, adolescent use is higher in states that ever passed such a law than in other states. State-level risk factors other than medical marijuana laws could contribute to both marijuana use and the passage of medical marijuana laws, and such factors warrant investigation.

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The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Juvenile Marijuana Use

Lisa Stolzenberg, Stewart D’Alessio & Dustin Dariano
International Journal of Drug Policy, forthcoming

Background: A number of states in the United States legally allow the use of marijuana as a medical therapy to treat an illness or to alleviate symptoms. Concern persists as to whether these types of laws are increasing juvenile recreational marijuana use. It is also plausible that medical marijuana laws engender an escalation of illicit non-marijuana drug use among juveniles because marijuana is frequently considered to be a gateway drug.

Methods: This study uses longitudinal data drawn from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health for the 50 U.S. states and a cross-sectional pooled-time series research design to investigate the effect of medical marijuana laws on juvenile marijuana use and on juvenile non-marijuana illicit drug use. Our study period encompasses five measurement periods calibrated in two-year intervals (2002-03 to 2010-11). This research design is advantageous in that it affords us the ability not only to assess the effect of the implementation of medical marijuana laws on juvenile drug use, but also to consider other state-specific factors that may explain variation in drug use that cannot be accounted for using a single time series.

Results: Findings show that medical marijuana laws amplify recreational juvenile marijuana use. Other salient predictors of juvenile marijuana use at the state-level of analysis include perceived availability of marijuana, percent of juveniles skipping school, severity of perceived punishment for marijuana possession, alcohol consumption, percent of respondents with a father residing in household, and percent of families in the state receiving public assistance. There is little empirical evidence to support the view that medical marijuana laws affect juveniles’ use of illicit non-marijuana drugs.

Conclusion: Based on our findings, it seems reasonable to speculate that medical marijuana laws amplify juveniles’ use of marijuana by allaying the social stigma associated with recreational marijuana use and by placating the fear that marijuana use could potentially result in a negative health outcome.

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Cigarette Taxes and Youth Smoking: Updated Estimates Using YRBS Data

Benjamin Hansen, Joseph Sabia & Daniel Rees
NBER Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
Using data from the state and national Youth Risk Behavior Surveys for the period 1991-2005, Carpenter and Cook (2008) found a strong, negative relationship between cigarette taxes and youth smoking. We revisit this relationship using four additional waves of YRBS data (2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013). Our results suggest that youths have become much less responsive to cigarette taxes since 2005. In fact, we find little evidence of a negative relationship between cigarette taxes and youth smoking when we restrict our attention to the period 2007-2013.

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Alcohol-related cues potentiate alcohol impairment of behavioral control in drinkers

Jessica Weafer & Mark Fillmore
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, June 2015, Pages 290-299

Abstract:
The acute impairing effects of alcohol on inhibitory control are well-established, and these disinhibiting effects are thought to play a role in its abuse potential. Alcohol impairment of inhibitory control is typically assessed in the context of arbitrary cues, yet drinking environments are comprised of an array of alcohol-related cues that are thought to influence drinking behavior. Recent evidence suggests that alcohol-related stimuli reduce behavioral control in sober drinkers, suggesting that alcohol impairment of inhibitory control might be potentiated in the context of alcohol cues. The current study tested this hypothesis by examining performance on the attentional-bias behavioral activation (ABBA) task that measures the degree to which alcohol-related stimuli can reduce inhibition of inappropriate responses in a between-subjects design. Social drinkers (N = 40) performed the task in a sober condition, and then again following placebo (0.0 g/kg) and a moderate dose of alcohol (0.65 g/kg) in counterbalanced order. Inhibitory failures were greater following alcohol images compared to neutral images in sober drinkers, replicating previous findings with the ABBA task. Moreover, alcohol-related cues exacerbated alcohol impairment of inhibitory control as evidenced by more pronounced alcohol-induced disinhibition following alcohol cues compared to neutral cues. Finally, regression analyses showed that greater alcohol-induced disinhibition following alcohol cues predicted greater self-reported alcohol consumption. These findings have important implications regarding factors contributing to binge or “loss of control” drinking. That is, the additive effect of disrupted control mechanisms via both alcohol cues and the pharmacological effects of the drug could compromise an individual’s control over ongoing alcohol consumption.

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Historical variation in young adult binge drinking trajectories and its link to historical variation in social roles and minimum legal drinking age

Justin Jager, Katherine Keyes & John Schulenberg
Developmental Psychology, July 2015, Pages 962-974

Abstract:
This study examines historical variation in age 18 to 26 binge drinking trajectories, focusing on differences in both levels of use and rates of change (growth) across cohorts of young adults over 3 decades. As part of the national Monitoring the Future Study, over 64,000 youths from the high school classes of 1976 to 2004 were surveyed at biennial intervals between ages 18 and 26. We found that, relative to past cohorts, recent cohorts both enter the 18 to 26 age band engaging in lower levels and exit the 18 to 26 age band engaging in higher levels of binge drinking. The reason for this reversal is that, relative to past cohorts, binge drinking among recent cohorts accelerates more quickly across ages 18 to 22 and decelerates more slowly across ages 22 to 26. Moreover, we found that historical increases in minimum legal drinking age account for a portion of the historical decline in age 18 level, whereas historical variation in social role acquisition (e.g., marriage, parenthood, and employment) accounts for a portion of the historical acceleration in age 18 to 22 growth. We also found that historical variation in the age 18 to 22 and age 22 to 26 growth rates was strongly and positively connected, suggesting common mechanism(s) underlie historical variation of both growth rates. Findings were generally consistent across gender and indicate that historical time is an important source of individual differences in young adult binge drinking trajectories. Beyond binge drinking, historical time may also inform the developmental course of other young adult risk behaviors, highlighting the interplay of epidemiology and etiology.

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Adolescent Socioeconomic and School-Based Social Status, Smoking, and Drinking

Helen Sweeting & Kate Hunt
Journal of Adolescent Health, July 2015, Pages 37–45

Purpose: Relationships between subjective social status (SSS) and health-risk behaviors have received less attention than those between SSS and health. Inconsistent associations between school-based SSS and smoking or drinking might be because it is a single measure reflecting several status dimensions. We investigated how adolescent smoking and drinking are associated with “objective” socioeconomic status (SES), subjective SES, and three dimensions of school-based SSS.

Methods: Scottish 13–15 years-olds (N = 2,503) completed questionnaires in school-based surveys, providing information on: “objective” SES (residential deprivation, family affluence); subjective SES (MacArthur Scale youth version); and three school-based SSS dimensions (“SSS-peer”, “SSS-scholastic” and “SSS-sports”). We examined associations between each status measure and smoking (ever and weekly) and drinking (ever and usually five or more drinks) and investigated variations according to gender and age.

Results: Smoking and heavier drinking were positively associated with residential deprivation; associations with family affluence and subjective SES were weak or nonexistent. Both substances were related to each school-based SSS measure, and these associations were equally strong or stronger than those with deprivation. Although SSS-peer was positively associated with both smoking and (especially heavier) drinking, SSS-scholastic and SSS-sports were negatively associated with both substances. There were no gender differences in the associations and few according to age.

Conclusions: Subjective school-based status has stronger associations with adolescent smoking and drinking than “objective” or subjective SES. However, different dimensions of school-based status relate to adolescent smoking and drinking in opposing directions, meaning one measure based on several dimensions might show inconsistent relationships with adolescent substance use.

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The impacts of marijuana dispensary density and neighborhood ecology on marijuana abuse and dependence

Christina Mair et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: As an increasing number of states liberalize cannabis use and develop laws and local policies, it is essential to better understand the impacts of neighborhood ecology and marijuana dispensary density on marijuana use, abuse, and dependence. We investigated associations between marijuana abuse/dependence hospitalizations and community demographic and environmental conditions from 2001-2012 in California, as well as cross-sectional associations between local and adjacent marijuana dispensary densities and marijuana hospitalizations.

Methods: We analyzed panel population data relating hospitalizations coded for marijuana abuse or dependence and assigned to residential ZIP codes in California from 2001 through 2012 (20,219 space-time units) to ZIP code demographic and ecological characteristics. Bayesian space-time misalignment models were used to account for spatial variations in geographic unit definitions over time, while also accounting for spatial autocorrelation using conditional autoregressive priors. We also analyzed cross-sectional associations between marijuana abuse/dependence and the density of dispensaries in local and spatially adjacent ZIP codes in 2012.

Results: An additional one dispensary per square mile in a ZIP code was cross-sectionally associated with a 6.8% increase in the number of marijuana hospitalizations (95% credible interval 1.033, 1.105) with a marijuana abuse/dependence code. Other local characteristics, such as the median household income and age and racial/ethnic distributions, were associated with marijuana hospitalizations in cross-sectional and panel analyses.

Conclusions: Prevention and intervention programs for marijuana abuse and dependence may be particularly essential in areas of concentrated disadvantage. Policy makers may want to consider regulations that limit the density of dispensaries.

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Losing jobs and lighting up: Employment experiences and smoking in the Great Recession

Shelley Golden & Krista Perreira
Social Science & Medicine, August 2015, Pages 110–118

Abstract:
The Great Recession produced the highest rates of unemployment observed in decades, in part due to particularly high rates of people losing work involuntarily. The impact of these job losses on health is unknown, due to the length of time required for most disease development, concerns about reverse causation, and limited data that covers this time period. We examine associations between job loss, employment status and smoking, the leading preventable cause of death, among 13,571 individuals participating in the 2001–2011 waves of the U.S.-based Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Results indicate that recent involuntary job loss is associated with an average 1.1 percentage point increase in smoking probability. This risk is strongest when people have returned to work, and appears reversed when they leave the labor market altogether. Although some job loss is associated with changes in household income and psychological distress levels, we find no evidence that these changes explain smoking behavior modifications. Smoking prevention programs and policies targeted at displaced workers or the newly employed may alleviate some negative health effects produced by joblessness during the Great Recession.

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Military Service and Alcohol Use in the United States

Jay Teachman, Carter Anderson & Lucky Tedrow
Armed Forces & Society, July 2015, Pages 460-476

Abstract:
It is well known that enlistees and veterans in the United States are more likely to use alcohol than civilians. However, most of this research is potentially biased in that it often does not employ control variables (other than age) and is based on cross-sectional data. Much of this research also fails to consider the relationship between military service and alcohol use among women. Using longitudinal data taken from the 1997 National Longitudinal Study of Youth, we investigate the relationship between military service and alcohol consumption employing a fixed-effects approach. We find that military service appears to encourage young men to consume alcohol. It is also the case that the effect of military service is not limited to the time that men spend in the military given that male veterans are also more likely to consume alcohol than are comparable nonveterans. We find, however, that women who serve, both enlistees and veterans, are less likely to drink than their civilian counterparts.

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A participant walks into a bar…: Subjective intoxication buffers ostracism’s negative effects

Andrew Hales, Kipling Williams & Christopher Eckhardt
Social Psychology, Summer 2015, Pages 157-166

Abstract:
Alcohol is commonly used to cope with social pain, but its effectiveness remains unknown. Existing theories offer diverging predictions. Pain overlap theory predicts that because alcohol numbs physical pain it should also numb people to the negative effects of ostracism. Alcohol myopia predicts that because alcohol intensifies salient emotions it should enhance the negative effects of ostracism. We conducted a field experiment in a bar, exposing individuals to ostracism or inclusion using Cyberball on an iPad. Subjective intoxication, but not blood alcohol concentration, was associated with less distress for participants who were ostracized, and more distress in participants who were included. We conclude that alcohol reduces both the pain of ostracism and the pleasure of inclusion.

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A Single Dose of Kudzu Extract Reduces Alcohol Consumption in a Binge Drinking Paradigm

David Penetar et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: Overconsumption of alcohol has significant negative effects on an individual's health and contributes to an enormous economic impact on society as a whole. Pharmacotherapies to curb excessive drinking are important for treating alcohol use disorders.

Methods: Twenty (20) men participated in a placebo-controlled, double-blind, between subjects design experiment (n = 10/group) that tested the effects of kudzu extract (Alkontrol-Herbal™) for its ability to alter alcohol consumption in a natural settings laboratory. A single dose of kudzu extract (2 grams total with an active isoflavone content of 520 mg) or placebo was administered 2.5 hours before the onset of a 90 minute afternoon drinking session during which participants had the opportunity to drink up to 6 beers ad libitum; water and juice were always available as alternative beverages.

Results: During the baseline session, the placebo-randomized group consumed 2.7 ± 0.78 beers before treatment and increased consumption to 3.4 ± 1.1 beers after treatment. The kudzu group significantly reduced consumption from 3.0 ± 1.7 at baseline to 1.9 ± 1.3 beers after treatment. The placebo-treated group opened 33 beers during baseline conditions and 38 following treatment whereas the kudzu-treated group opened 32 beers during baseline conditions and only 21 following treatment. Additionally, kudzu-treated participants drank slower.

Conclusion: This is the first demonstration that a single dose of kudzu extract quickly reduces alcohol consumption in a binge drinking paradigm. These data add to the mounting clinical evidence that kudzu extract may be a safe and effective adjunctive pharmacotherapy for alcohol abuse and dependence.

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Gateway to Curiosity: Medical Marijuana Ads and Intention and Use During Middle School

Elizabeth D’Amico, Jeremy Miles & Joan Tucker
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, forthcoming

Abstract:
Over the past several years, medical marijuana has received increased attention in the media, and marijuana use has increased across the United States. Studies suggest that as marijuana has become more accessible and adults have become more tolerant regarding marijuana use, adolescents perceive marijuana as more beneficial and are more likely to use if they are living in an environment that is more tolerant of marijuana use. One factor that may influence adolescents’ perceptions about marijuana and marijuana use is their exposure to advertising of this product. We surveyed sixth- to eighth-grade youth in 2010 and 2011 in 16 middle schools in Southern California (n = 8,214; 50% male; 52% Hispanic; mean age = 13 years) and assessed exposure to advertising for medical marijuana, marijuana intentions, and marijuana use. Cross-lagged regressions showed a reciprocal association of advertising exposure with marijuana use and intentions during middle school. Greater initial medical marijuana advertising exposure was significantly associated with a higher probability of marijuana use and stronger intentions to use 1 year later, and initial marijuana use and stronger intentions to use were associated with greater medical marijuana advertising exposure 1 year later. Prevention programs need to better explain medical marijuana to youth, providing information on the context for proper medical use of this drug and the potential harms from use during this developmental period. Furthermore, as this is a new frontier, it is important to consider regulating medical marijuana advertisements, as is currently done for alcohol and tobacco products.

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Special-Interest Spillovers and Tobacco Taxation

Adam Hoffer
Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study explores the effects tobacco special interest has had on cigarette tax rates. Using a spatial econometric model to control for tax competition and the endogeneity present in state tax rates, this study finds that tobacco special interest has played a significant role in influencing state cigarette tax rates. Pounds of tobacco grown in a state and tobacco industry campaign contributions are associated with lower cigarette tax rates. The empirical results show that the magnitude of the special-interest effect can be two to five times as large when the spatial spillover effects are included.

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Adolescent Substance Use: The Role of Demographic Marginalization and Socioemotional Distress

Aprile Benner & Yijie Wang
Developmental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigated the links between racial/ethnic marginalization (i.e., having few same-race/ethnic peers at school) and adolescents’ socioemotional distress and subsequent initiation of substance use (alcohol and marijuana) and substance use levels. Data from 7,731 adolescents (52% female; 55% White, 21% African American, 16% Latino, 8% Asian American) were drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. In our path analysis model, we found that adolescents who were racially/ethnically marginalized at school (i.e., who had less than 15% same-ethnicity peers) reported poorer school attachment, which was linked to more depressive symptoms. More depressive symptoms were associated with higher levels of subsequent marijuana and alcohol use. These relationships showed some variation by students’ gender, race/ethnicity, and age. Findings suggest that the influence of school demographics extends beyond the academic domain into the health and well-being of young people.

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Gender Differences in the Associations Among Marijuana Use, Cigarette Use, and Symptoms of Depression During Adolescence and Young Adulthood

Natania Crane, Scott Langenecker & Robin Mermelstein
Addictive Behaviors, October 2015, Pages 33–39

Introduction: As prevalence of marijuana use increases, it is important that we better understand how factors like gender, cigarette use, and depression are related to marijuana use during adolescence and young adulthood. We examined longitudinal relationships among these variables in adolescents moving into young adulthood who were studied longitudinally for six years.

Methods: 1,263 individuals were included in the study. Participants were oversampled for ever-smoking a cigarette at baseline, when they were 15–16 years old. Frequency of cigarette smoking and marijuana use, as well as depression symptoms were assessed at baseline, 6, 15-, 24-, 60- and 72-months.

Results: Cigarette use frequency and depression symptoms were associated with frequency of marijuana use (p-values < .001), particularly in adolescence, but there were important gender differences in these relationships. Specifically, symptoms of depression were related to marijuana use frequency among males (p < .001), but not females (p = .62). In addition, frequency of marijuana use was associated with increased cigarette use frequency, especially among males who had higher symptoms of depression (p < .001). However, this effect was not seen among females. Exploratory analyses suggested relationships between frequency of use and depression are specific to marijuana, not cigarettes.

Conclusions: Marijuana use is strongly related to depression symptoms and cigarette use frequency in males, indicating that in males these detrimental factors converge, whereas in females they do not. Gender differences in the factors related to marijuana use may mean that there are different risks for and consequences from use and have implications for prevention and intervention efforts.

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A Multi-level Analysis of the Impact of Neighborhood Structural and Social Factors on Adolescent Substance Use

Abigail Fagan, Emily Wright & Gillian Pinchevsky
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: This paper examined the effects of neighborhood structural (i.e., economic disadvantage, immigrant concentration, residential stability) and social (e.g., collective efficacy, social network interactions, intolerance of drug use, legal cynicism) factors on the likelihood of any adolescent tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana use.

Methods: Analyses drew upon information from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN). Data were obtained from a survey of adult residents of 79 Chicago neighborhoods, two waves of interviews with 1,657 to 1,664 care-givers and youth aged 8 to 16 years, and information from the 1990 U.S. Census Bureau. Hierarchical Bernoulli regression models estimated the impact of neighborhood factors on substance use controlling for individual-level demographic characteristics and psycho-social risk factors.

Results: Few neighborhood factors had statistically significant direct effects on adolescent tobacco, alcohol or marijuana use, although youth living in neighborhoods with greater levels of immigrant concentration were less likely to report any drinking.

Conclusion: Additional theorizing and more empirical research are needed to better understand the ways in which contextual influences affect adolescent substance use and delinquency.

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Incidence and Salience of Alcohol Taxes: Do Consumers Overreact?

Andrew Hanson & Ryan Sullivan
Public Finance Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We use a unique, geocoded micro data set of retail prices to estimate the incidence of alcohol taxation. We estimate the pass-through of alcohol taxation employing both standard ordinary least squares (OLS) and a regression discontinuity design (RDD), using the abrupt change in excise tax occurring at state borders for identification. Our results show that sales and excise taxes on alcohol have different effects on final consumer price. Our estimates suggest that while 40 percent to 50 percent of sales taxes are passed on to consumers, excise taxes have a negative pass-through rate. Negative rates of pass-through on the excise portion of the alcohol tax are likely the result of consumers overreacting to the tax compared to how they would react to a general price increase, or that the alcohol tax is quite salient for consumers. This effect is particularly strong in areas near state borders when using the RDD estimation strategy.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Green-eyed monster

Compensation and Community Corrosion: Perceived Inequalities, Social Comparisons, and Competition Following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Brian Mayer, Katrina Running & Kelly Bergstrand
Sociological Forum, June 2015, Pages 369–390

Abstract:
After disasters, victim compensation programs are typically associated with individual healing and community rebuilding. But postdisaster compensation systems also have the potential to introduce confusion and competition, further fraying the social fabric of communities affected by trauma. To assess the perceived effects of disaster compensation processes on community social relations, as well as the mechanisms that underlie such effects, we turn to the case of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, after which BP implemented one of the largest compensation systems in U.S. history. Using data from interviews of residents of four Gulf Coast communities, we examine the extent to which this claims process hindered efforts to recover from this disaster. Our data suggest that while BP money helped some residents in the Gulf during a difficult economic time, many interviewees perceived uncertainty, randomness, and unevenness in the compensation process, which led to negative social comparisons and competition among community members. Because of this animosity, we argue that BP's compensation system was a disruptive mechanism that contributed to community corrosion and introduced another source of psychological stress into already-traumatized areas.

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Are the Non-monetary Costs of Energy Efficiency Investments Large? Understanding Low Take-Up of a Free Energy Efficiency Program

Meredith Fowlie, Michael Greenstone & Catherine Wolfram
American Economic Review, May 2015, Pages 201-204

Abstract:
We document very low take-up of an energy efficiency program that is widely believed to be privately beneficial. Program participants receive a substantial home "weatherization" retrofit; all installation and equipment costs are covered by the program. Less than 1 percent of presumptively eligible households take up the program in the control group. This rate increased only modestly after we took extraordinary efforts to inform households — via multiple channels — about the sizable benefits and zero monetary costs. These findings are consistent with high non-monetary costs associated with program participation and/or energy efficiency investments.

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Do Energy Efficiency Investments Deliver? Evidence from the Weatherization Assistance Program

Meredith Fowlie, Michael Greenstone & Catherine Wolfram
University of Chicago Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
Conventional wisdom suggests that energy efficiency (EE) policies are beneficial because they induce investments that pay for themselves and lead to emissions reductions. However, this belief is primarily based on projections from engineering models. This paper reports on the results of an experimental evaluation of the nation’s largest residential EE program conducted on a sample of more than 30,000 households. The findings suggest that the upfront investment costs are about twice the actual energy savings. Further, the model-projected savings are roughly 2.5 times the actual savings. While this might be attributed to the “rebound” effect – when demand for energy end uses increases as a result of greater efficiency – the paper fails to find evidence of significantly higher indoor temperatures at weatherized homes. Even when accounting for the broader societal benefits of energy efficiency investments, the costs still substantially outweigh the benefits; the average rate of return is approximately -9.5% annually.

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Environmental Benefits from Driving Electric Vehicles?

Stephen Holland et al.
NBER Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
Electric vehicles offer the promise of reduced environmental externalities relative to their gasoline counterparts. We combine a theoretical discrete-choice model of new vehicle purchases, an econometric analysis of the marginal emissions from electricity, and the AP2 air pollution model to estimate the environmental benefit of electric vehicles. First, we find considerable variation in the environmental benefit, implying a range of second-best electric vehicle purchase subsidies from $3025 in California to -$4773 in North Dakota, with a mean of -$742. Second, over ninety percent of local environmental externalities from driving an electric vehicle in one state are exported to others, implying that electric vehicles may be subsidized locally, even though they may lead to negative environmental benefits overall. Third, geographically differentiated subsidies can reduce deadweight loss, but only modestly. Fourth, the current federal purchase subsidy of $7500 has greater deadweight loss than a no-subsidy policy.

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Green spaces and cognitive development in primary schoolchildren

Payam Dadvand et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 30 June 2015, Pages 7937–7942

Abstract:
Exposure to green space has been associated with better physical and mental health. Although this exposure could also influence cognitive development in children, available epidemiological evidence on such an impact is scarce. This study aimed to assess the association between exposure to green space and measures of cognitive development in primary schoolchildren. This study was based on 2,593 schoolchildren in the second to fourth grades (7–10 y) of 36 primary schools in Barcelona, Spain (2012–2013). Cognitive development was assessed as 12-mo change in developmental trajectory of working memory, superior working memory, and inattentiveness by using four repeated (every 3 mo) computerized cognitive tests for each outcome. We assessed exposure to green space by characterizing outdoor surrounding greenness at home and school and during commuting by using high-resolution (5 m × 5 m) satellite data on greenness (normalized difference vegetation index). Multilevel modeling was used to estimate the associations between green spaces and cognitive development. We observed an enhanced 12-mo progress in working memory and superior working memory and a greater 12-mo reduction in inattentiveness associated with greenness within and surrounding school boundaries and with total surrounding greenness index (including greenness surrounding home, commuting route, and school). Adding a traffic-related air pollutant (elemental carbon) to models explained 20–65% of our estimated associations between school greenness and 12-mo cognitive development. Our study showed a beneficial association between exposure to green space and cognitive development among schoolchildren that was partly mediated by reduction in exposure to air pollution.

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Environmental Science in the Media: Effects of Opposing Viewpoints on Risk and Uncertainty Perceptions

Katherine Kortenkamp & Bianca Basten
Science Communication, June 2015, Pages 287-313

Abstract:
Media reports of environmental science often give equal weight to opposing viewpoints, which can make the science seem more controversial than it actually is. The current study extended the research in this area by examining whether discrediting one expert viewpoint would minimize false perceptions of controversy. Participants (N = 247) read articles about environmental risks containing one viewpoint, two balanced viewpoints, or two viewpoints with one discredited. Results showed that a discredited opposing viewpoint often influenced risk and uncertainty perceptions in similar ways to a balanced opposing viewpoint, implying that this tactic may not necessarily minimize false perceptions of controversy.

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Fruit and vegetable intake and their pesticide residues in relation to semen quality among men from a fertility clinic

Y.H. Chiu et al.
Human Reproduction, June 2015, Pages 1342-1351

Study question: Is consumption of fruits and vegetables with high levels of pesticide residues associated with lower semen quality?

Study design, size, duration: Men enrolled in the Environment and Reproductive Health (EARTH) Study, an ongoing prospective cohort at an academic medical fertility center. Male partners (n = 155) in subfertile couples provided 338 semen samples during 2007–2012.

Participants/materials, setting, methods: Semen samples were collected over an 18-month period following diet assessment. Sperm concentration and motility were evaluated by computer-aided semen analysis (CASA). Fruits and vegetables were categorized as containing high or low-to-moderate pesticide residues based on data from the annual United States Department of Agriculture Pesticide Data Program. Linear mixed models were used to analyze the association of fruit and vegetable intake with sperm parameters accounting for within-person correlations across repeat samples while adjusting for potential confounders.

Main results and the role of chance: Total fruit and vegetable intake was unrelated to semen quality parameters. High pesticide residue fruit and vegetable intake, however, was associated with poorer semen quality. On average, men in highest quartile of high pesticide residue fruit and vegetable intake (≥1.5 servings/day) had 49% (95% confidence interval (CI): 31%, 63%) lower total sperm count and 32% (95% CI: 7%, 58%) lower percentage of morphologically normal sperm than men in the lowest quartile of intake (<0.5 servings/day) (P, trend = 0.003 and 0.02, respectively). Low-to-moderate pesticide residue fruit and vegetable intake was associated with a higher percentage of morphologically normal sperm (P, trend = 0.04).

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Fine particulate matter and the risk of autism spectrum disorder

Evelyn Talbott et al.
Environmental Research, July 2015, Pages 414–420

Abstract:
The causes of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are not well known. Recent investigations have suggested that air pollution, including PM2.5, may play a role in the onset of this condition. The objective of the present work was to investigate the association between prenatal and early childhood exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and risk for childhood ASD. A population-based case-control study was conducted in children born between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2009 in six counties in Southwestern Pennsylvania. ASD cases were recruited from specialty autism clinics, local pediatric practices, and school-based special needs services. ASD cases were children who scored 15 or above on the Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ) and had written documentation of an ASD diagnosis. Controls were children without ASD recruited from a random sample of births from the Pennsylvania state birth registry and frequency matched to cases on birth year, gender, and race. A total of 217 cases and 226 controls were interviewed. A land use regression (LUR) model was used to create person- and time-specific PM2.5 estimates for individual (pre-pregnancy, trimesters one through three, pregnancy, years one and two of life) and cumulative (starting from pre-pregnancy) key developmental time periods. Logistic regression was used to investigate the association between estimated exposure to PM2.5 during key developmental time periods and risk of ASD, adjusting for mother's age, education, race, and smoking. Adjusted odds ratios (AOR) were elevated for specific pregnancy and postnatal intervals (pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, and year one), and postnatal year two was significant, (AOR=1.45, 95% CI=1.01–2.08). We also examined the effect of cumulative pregnancy periods; noting that starting with pre-pregnancy through pregnancy, the adjusted odds ratios are in the 1.46–1.51 range and significant for pre-pregnancy through year 2 (OR=1.51, 95% CI=1.01–2.26). Our data indicate that both prenatal and postnatal exposures to PM2.5 are associated with increased risk of ASD. Future research should include multiple pollutant models and the elucidation of the biological mechanism for PM2.5 and ASD.

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Low-Concentration PM2.5 and Mortality: Estimating Acute and Chronic Effects in a Population-Based Study

Liuhua Shi et al.
Environmental Health Perspectives, forthcoming

Background: Both short- and long-term exposures to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) are associated with mortality. However, whether the associations exist below the new EPA standards (12 μg/m3 of annual average PM2.5, 35 μg/m3 daily) is unclear. In addition, it is not clear whether results of previous time series studies (fit in larger cities) and cohort studies (fit in convenience samples) are generalizable to the general population.

Methods: High resolution (1 × 1 km) daily PM2.5 predictions, derived from satellite aerosol optical depth retrievals, were employed. Poisson regressions were applied to the Medicare population (age>=65) in New England to simultaneously estimate the acute and chronic effects, with mutual adjustment for short- and long-term exposure, as well as area-based confounders. Models were also restricted to annual concentrations below 10 µg/m3 or daily concentrations below 30 µg/m3.

Results: PM2.5 was associated with increased mortality. In the cohort, 2.14% (95% CI: 1.38, 2.89%) and 7.52% (95% CI: 1.95, 13.40%) increases were estimated for each 10 µg/m3 increase in short- (2 day) and long-term (1 year) exposures, respectively. The associations still held for analyses restricted to low-concentration PM2.5 exposures. The corresponding estimates were 2.14% (95% CI: 1.34, 2.95%) and 9.28% (95% CI: 0.76, 18.52%). Penalized spline models of long-term exposure indicated a higher slope for mortality in association with exposures above versus below 6 µg/m3. In contrast, the association between short-term exposure and mortality appeared to be linear across the entire exposure distribution.

Conclusions: Using a mutually adjusted model, we estimated significant acute and chronic effects of PM2.5 exposures below current EPA standards. These findings suggest that improving air quality below current standards may benefit public health.

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Impact of Natural Gas Extraction on PAH Levels in Ambient Air

Blair Paulik et al.
Environmental Science & Technology, 21 April 2015, Pages 5203–5210

Abstract:
Natural gas extraction, often referred to as “fracking,” has increased rapidly in the U.S. in recent years. To address potential health impacts, passive air samplers were deployed in a rural community heavily affected by the natural gas boom. Samplers were analyzed for 62 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Results were grouped based on distance from each sampler to the nearest active well. PAH levels were highest when samplers were closest to active wells. Additionally, PAH levels closest to natural gas activity were an order of magnitude higher than levels previously reported in rural areas. Sourcing ratios indicate that PAHs were predominantly petrogenic, suggesting that elevated PAH levels were influenced by direct releases from the earth. Quantitative human health risk assessment estimated the excess lifetime cancer risks associated with exposure to the measured PAHs. Closest to active wells, the risk estimated for maximum residential exposure was 2.9 in 10 000, which is above the U.S. EPA’s acceptable risk level. Overall, risk estimates decreased 30% when comparing results from samplers closest to active wells to those farthest. This work suggests that natural gas extraction may be contributing significantly to PAHs in air, at levels that are relevant to human health.

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High-rate injection is associated with the increase in U.S. mid-continent seismicity

Matthew Weingarten et al.
Science, 19 June 2015, Pages 1336-1340

Abstract:
An unprecedented increase in earthquakes in the U.S. mid-continent began in 2009. Many of these earthquakes have been documented as induced by wastewater injection. We examine the relationship between wastewater injection and U.S. mid-continent seismicity using a newly assembled injection well database for the central and eastern United States. We find that the entire increase in earthquake rate is associated with fluid injection wells. High-rate injection wells (>300,000 barrels per month) are much more likely to be associated with earthquakes than lower-rate wells. At the scale of our study, a well’s cumulative injected volume, monthly wellhead pressure, depth, and proximity to crystalline basement do not strongly correlate with earthquake association. Managing injection rates may be a useful tool to minimize the likelihood of induced earthquakes.

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Cooperation is in our nature: Nature exposure may promote cooperative and environmentally sustainable behavior

John Zelenski, Raelyne Dopko & Colin Capaldi
Journal of Environmental Psychology, June 2015, Pages 24–31

Abstract:
Theory and correlational research suggest that connecting with nature may facilitate prosocial and environmentally sustainable behaviors. In three studies we test causal direction with experimental manipulations of nature exposure and laboratory analogs of cooperative and sustainable behavior. Participants who watched a nature video harvested more cooperatively and sustainably in a fishing-themed commons dilemma, compared to participants who watched an architectural video (Study 1 and 2) or geometric shapes with an audio podcast about writing (Study 2). The effects were not due to mood, and this was corroborated in Study 3 where pleasantness and nature content were manipulated independently in a 2 × 2 design. Participants exposed to nature videos responded more cooperatively on a measure of social value orientation and indicated greater willingness to engage in environmentally sustainable behaviors. Collectively, results suggest that exposure to nature may increase cooperation, and, when considering environmental problems as social dilemmas, sustainable intentions and behavior.

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Can Price Volatility Enhance Market Power? The Case of Renewable Technologies in Competitive Electricity Markets

Irena Milstein & Asher Tishler
Resource and Energy Economics, August 2015, Pages 70–90

Abstract:
This paper develops a two-stage model with endogenous capacity and operations to assess the practicality of photovoltaic technology (PV) in competitive electricity markets. Applying our model to stylized data of California's electricity market we demonstrate that electricity price spikes are higher and more frequent the higher the PV capacity. Consequently, the average electricity price rises when construction costs of PV capacity decline due, for example, to technology improvements, bestowing market power and excessive profits on producers employing fossil-using technologies. We also show that an increase in the number of PV-using firms and higher CO2 tax reduce consumer surplus.

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Vehicle Miles (Not) Traveled: Why Fuel Economy Requirements Don't Increase Household Driving

Jeremy West et al.
NBER Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
A major concern with addressing the negative externalities of gasoline consumption by regulating fuel economy, rather than increasing fuel taxes, is that households respond by driving more. This paper exploits a discrete threshold in the eligibility for Cash for Clunkers to show that fuel economy restrictions lead households to purchase vehicles that have lower cost-per-mile, but are also smaller and lower-performance. Whereas the former effect can increase driving, the latter effect can reduce it. Results indicate these households do not drive more, suggesting that behavioral responses do not necessarily undermine the effectiveness of fuel economy restrictions at reducing gasoline consumption.

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Worldwide Acreage and Yield Response to International Price Change and Volatility: A Dynamic Panel Data Analysis for Wheat, Rice, Corn, and Soybeans

Mekbib Haile, Matthias Kalkuhl & Joachim von Braun
American Journal of Agricultural Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article estimates a worldwide aggregate supply response for key agricultural commodities — wheat, rice, corn, and soybeans — by employing a newly-developed multi-country, crop-calendar-specific, seasonally disaggregated model with price changes and price volatility applied accordingly. The findings reveal that, although higher output prices serve as an incentive to improve global crop supply as expected, output price volatility acts as a disincentive. Depending on the crop, the results show that own-price supply elasticities range from about 0.05 to 0.40. Output price volatility, however, has negative correlations with crop supply, implying that farmers shift land, other inputs, and yield-improving investments to crops with less volatile prices. Simulating the impact of price dynamics since 2006, we find that price risk has reduced the production response of wheat in particular — and to a lesser extent, rice — thus dampening price incentive effects. The simulation analysis shows that the increase in own-crop price volatility from 2006–2010 dampened yield by about 1–2% for the crops under consideration.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Appetizing

Neighborhood fast food availability and fast food consumption

Nathalie Oexle et al.
Appetite, September 2015, Pages 227–232

Abstract:
Recent nutritional and public health research has focused on how the availability of various types of food in a person's immediate area or neighborhood influences his or her food choices and eating habits. It has been theorized that people living in areas with a wealth of unhealthy fast-food options may show higher levels of fast-food consumption, a factor that often coincides with being overweight or obese. However, measuring food availability in a particular area is difficult to achieve consistently: there may be differences in the strict physical locations of food options as compared to how individuals perceive their personal food availability, and various studies may use either one or both of these measures. The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between weekly fast-food consumption and both a person's perceived availability of fast-food and an objective measure of fast-food presence — Geographic Information Systems (GIS) — within that person's neighborhood. A randomly selected population-based sample of eight counties in South Carolina was used to conduct a cross-sectional telephone survey assessing self-report fast-food consumption and perceived availability of fast food. GIS was used to determine the actual number of fast-food outlets within each participant's neighborhood. Using multinomial logistic regression analyses, we found that neither perceived availability nor GIS-based presence of fast-food was significantly associated with weekly fast-food consumption. Our findings indicate that availability might not be the dominant factor influencing fast-food consumption. We recommend using subjective availability measures and considering individual characteristics that could influence both perceived availability of fast food and its impact on fast-food consumption. If replicated, our findings suggest that interventions aimed at reducing fast-food consumption by limiting neighborhood fast-food availability might not be completely effective.

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Do 'Cheeseburger Bills' Work? Effects of Tort Reform for Fast Food

Christopher Carpenter & Sebastian Tello-Trillo
NBER Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
After highly publicized lawsuits against McDonald’s in 2002, 26 states adopted Commonsense Consumption Acts (CCAs) – aka ‘Cheeseburger Bills’ – that greatly limit fast food companies’ liability for weight-related harms. We provide the first evidence of the effects of CCAs using plausibly exogenous variation in the timing of CCA adoption across states. In two-way fixed effects models, we find that CCAs significantly increased stated attempts to lose weight and consumption of fruits and vegetables among heavy individuals. We also find that CCAs significantly increased employment in fast food. Finally, we find that CCAs significantly increased the number of company-owned McDonald’s restaurants and decreased the number of franchise-owned McDonald’s restaurants in a state. Overall our results provide novel evidence supporting a key prediction of tort reform – that it should induce individuals to take more care – and show that industry-specific tort reforms can have meaningful effects on market outcomes.

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Behavioral and Environmental Modification of the Genetic Influence on Body Mass Index: A Twin Study

Erin Horn et al.
Behavior Genetics, July 2015, Pages 409-426

Abstract:
Body mass index (BMI) has a strong genetic basis, with a heritability around 0.75, but is also influenced by numerous behavioral and environmental factors. Aspects of the built environment (e.g., environmental walkability) are hypothesized to influence obesity by directly affecting BMI, by facilitating or inhibiting behaviors such as physical activity that are related to BMI, or by suppressing genetic tendencies toward higher BMI. The present study investigated relative influences of physical activity and walkability on variance in BMI using 5079 same-sex adult twin pairs (70 % monozygotic, 65 % female). High activity and walkability levels independently suppressed genetic variance in BMI. Estimating their effects simultaneously, however, suggested that the walkability effect was mediated by activity. The suppressive effect of activity on variance in BMI was present even with a tendency for low-BMI individuals to select into environments that require higher activity levels. Overall, our results point to community- or macro-level interventions that facilitate individual-level behaviors as a plausible approach to addressing the obesity epidemic among US adults.

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Vertical Transmission of Overweight: Evidence from English Adoptees

Joan Costa-Font, Mireia Jofre-Bonet & Julian Le Grand
London School of Economics Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
We examine the vertical transmission of overweight drawing upon a sample of English children, both adopted and non-adopted, and their families. Our results suggest strong evidence of an intergenerational association of overweight among adoptees, indicating transmission through cultural factors. We find that, when both adoptive parents are overweight, the likelihood of an adopted child being overweight is between 10% and 20% higher than when they are not. We also find that the cultural transmission of overweight is not aggravated by having a full-time working mother, so do not confirm the existence of a female labour market participation penalty on child overweight among adoptees. Overall, our findings, despite subject to data limitations, are robust to a battery of robustness checks, specification and sample selection corrections.

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Higher weight status of only and last-born children. Maternal feeding and child eating behaviors as underlying processes among 4–8 year olds

Rana Mosli et al.
Appetite, September 2015, Pages 167–172

Abstract:
Birth order has been associated with childhood obesity. The objective of this cross-sectional study was to examine maternal feeding and child eating behaviors as underlying processes for increased weight status of only children and youngest siblings. Participants included 274 low-income 4–8 year old children and their mothers. The dyads completed a videotaped laboratory mealtime observation. Mothers completed the Caregiver's Feeding Styles Questionnaire and the Children's Eating Behavior Questionnaire. Child weight and height were measured using standardized procedures. Path analysis was used to examine associations of birth order, maternal feeding behaviors, child eating behavior, and child overweight/obese status. The association between only child status and greater likelihood of overweight/obesity was fully mediated by higher maternal Verbal Discouragement to eat and lower maternal Praise (all p values < 0.05). The association between youngest sibling status and greater likelihood of overweight/obesity was partially mediated by lower maternal Praise and lower child Food Fussiness (all p values < 0.05). Results provide support for our hypothesis that maternal control and support and child food acceptance are underlying pathways for the association between birth order and weight status. Future findings can help inform family-based programs by guiding family counseling and tailoring of recommendations for family mealtime interactions.

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School-Based Body Mass Index Screening and Parental Notification in Late Adolescence: Evidence From Arkansas's Act 1220

Kevin Gee
Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Purpose: In 2003, Arkansas enacted Act 1220, one of the first comprehensive legislative initiatives aimed at addressing childhood obesity. One important provision of Act 1220 mandated that all children attending public schools be screened for their body mass index (BMI) and the information sent home to their parents. Since then, eight other states have adopted similar school-based BMI screening and notification policies. Despite their widespread adoption and implementation, there is a dearth of empirical studies evaluating such policies, particularly for adolescents. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether adolescents, who had been previously screened in early adolescence, experienced changes in their health outcomes if they continued to receive screening and reporting throughout late adolescence (11th and 12th grades).

Methods: Secondary data from the Centers for Disease Control's Youth Risk Behavior Survey were analyzed using the method of difference-in-differences. Changes in outcomes between 10th and 12th grade were compared between a group of students who received screenings throughout 11th and 12th grades versus a later comparison group who were exempt from screening and reporting requirements in 11th and 12th grades.

Results: BMI screening and parental notification during late adolescence, given prior screening and notification in early adolescence, was not significantly related to BMI-for-age z-scores, the probability of being in a lower weight classification or exercise and dietary intake behaviors.

Conclusions: Exposing 11th and 12th graders to BMI screening and reporting, given that they had been exposed in prior grades, was not associated with adolescents' health outcomes.

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Reduced facial emotion recognition in overweight and obese children

Anne Koch & Olga Pollatos
Journal of Psychosomatic Research, forthcoming

Objective: Emotional problems often co-occur in overweight or obese children. However, questions of whether emotion recognition deficits are present and how they are reflected have only been sparsely investigated to date.

Methods: Therefore, the present study included 33 overweight and obese as well as 33 normal weight elementary school children between six and ten years that were matched for sex, age and socioeconomic status. Participants were shown different emotional faces of a well-validated set of stimuli on a computer screen, which they categorized and then rated on an emotional intensity level. Key measures were categorization performance along with reaction times and emotional intelligence as well as emotional eating questionnaire ratings.

Results: Overweight children exhibited lower categorization accuracy as well as longer reaction times as compared to normal weight children, while no differences in intensity ratings occurred. Reaction time to neutral facial expressions was negatively related to intrapersonal and interpersonal emotional intelligence and emotional eating correlated negatively with accuracy for recognizing sad expressions.

Conclusion: Facial emotion decoding difficulties seem to be of importance in overweight and obese children and deserve further consideration in terms of their exact impact on social functioning as well as on the maintenance of elevated body weight during child development.

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Change in Neighborhood Socioeconomic Status and Weight Gain: Dallas Heart Study

Tiffany Powell-Wiley et al.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, July 2015, Pages 72–79

Introduction: Despite a proposed connection between neighborhood environment and obesity, few longitudinal studies have examined the relationship between change in neighborhood socioeconomic deprivation, as defined by moving between neighborhoods, and change in body weight. The purpose of this study is to examine the longitudinal relationship between moving to more socioeconomically deprived neighborhoods and weight gain as a cardiovascular risk factor.

Methods: Weight (kilograms) was measured in the Dallas Heart Study (DHS), a multiethnic cohort aged 18–65 years, at baseline (2000–2002) and 7-year follow-up (2007–2009, N=1,835). Data were analyzed in 2013–2014. Geocoded addresses were linked to Dallas County, TX, census block groups. A block group-level neighborhood deprivation index (NDI) was created. Multilevel difference-in-difference models with random effects and a Heckman correction factor (HCF) determined weight change relative to NDI change.

Results: Forty-nine percent of the DHS population moved (263 to higher NDI, 586 to lower NDI, 47 within same NDI), with blacks more likely to move than whites or Hispanics (p<0.01), but similar baseline BMI and waist circumference were observed in movers versus non-movers (p>0.05). Adjusting for HCF, sex, race, and time-varying covariates, those who moved to areas of higher NDI gained more weight compared to those remaining in the same or moving to a lower NDI (0.64 kg per 1-unit NDI increase, 95% CI=0.09, 1.19). Impact of NDI change on weight gain increased with time (p=0.03).

Conclusions: Moving to more–socioeconomically deprived neighborhoods was associated with weight gain among DHS participants.

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Physical activity and food consumption: The moderating role of individual dieting tendency

Chiu-Chi Angela Chang & Ying-Ching Lin
Journal of Health Psychology, May 2015, Pages 490-499

Abstract:
Applying theory on justification and self-control, this research examines the impact of physical activity on dieters’ and nondieters’ food consumption patterns. The results from two studies demonstrate that dieters, but not nondieters, consume more food after exercising as compared to situations in which no exercise is involved. In addition, dieters consume more food when they anticipate engaging in physical activity as compared to when they have completed their exercising. When physical activity is framed as fun (vs work), dieters decrease the amount of food they consume after exercising. Estimation of calories burned through exercise underlies this result.

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The Effect of Fitness Branding on Restrained Eaters’ Food Consumption and Post-Consumption Physical Activity

Joerg Koenigstorfer & Hans Baumgartner
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Individuals who want to control their body weight often aim to regulate both energy intake (by reducing food consumption) and energy expenditure (by increasing physical activity), thus addressing both sides of the energy balance equation. Marketers have developed fitness-branded food that may lead restrained eaters (i.e., consumers who are chronically concerned about their body weight) to believe that they can achieve these two goals at the same time by consuming the food. The purpose of this research is to investigate the effects of fitness branding in food marketing (i.e., the integration of fitness into the branding of food) on consumption and physical activity in restrained (vs. unrestrained) eaters. The authors show that fitness branding increases consumption volumes for restrained eaters unless the food is viewed as dietary forbidden. Restrained eaters are also less physically active after consuming fitness-branded food, and food consumption volumes mediate this effect in restrained eaters. Fitness branding may therefore have undesirable effects on the weight control behaviors of restrained eaters because it discourages physical activity despite an increase in consumption, which is contrary to the principle of energy balance.

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Cost Effectiveness of a Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Excise Tax in the U.S.

Michael Long et al.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, July 2015, Pages 112–123

Introduction: Reducing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption through taxation is a promising public health response to the obesity epidemic in the U.S. This study quantifies the expected health and economic benefits of a national sugar-sweetened beverage excise tax of $0.01/ounce over 10 years.

Methods: A cohort model was used to simulate the impact of the tax on BMI. Assuming ongoing implementation and effect maintenance, quality-adjusted life-years gained and disability-adjusted life-years and healthcare costs averted were estimated over the 2015–2025 period for the 2015 U.S. population. Costs and health gains were discounted at 3% annually. Data were analyzed in 2014.

Results: Implementing the tax nationally would cost $51 million in the first year. The tax would reduce sugar-sweetened beverage consumption by 20% and mean BMI by 0.16 (95% uncertainty interval [UI]=0.06, 0.37) units among youth and 0.08 (95% UI=0.03, 0.20) units among adults in the second year for a cost of $3.16 (95% UI=$1.24, $8.14) per BMI unit reduced. From 2015 to 2025, the policy would avert 101,000 disability-adjusted life-years (95% UI=34,800, 249,000); gain 871,000 quality-adjusted life-years (95% UI=342,000, 2,030,000); and result in $23.6 billion (95% UI=$9.33 billion, $54.9 billion) in healthcare cost savings. The tax would generate $12.5 billion in annual revenue (95% UI=$8.92, billion, $14.1 billion).

Conclusions: The proposed tax could substantially reduce BMI and healthcare expenditures and increase healthy life expectancy. Concerns regarding the potentially regressive tax may be addressed by reduced obesity disparities and progressive earmarking of tax revenue for health promotion.

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Motivating Healthy Diet Behaviors: The Self-as-Doer Identity

Amanda Brouwer & Katie Mosack
Self and Identity, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigated whether the experimental manipulation of a self-as-doer identity predicted improved healthy food consumption immediately and one month post-intervention. Women (N = 124), 18–53 years old (M = 22.1, SD = 5.8) were randomly assigned to one of three conditions (i.e., control, education, or education and self-as-doer activity) and recorded their diets over six weeks. Repeated measures ANCOVAs were performed to determine if the self-as-doer intervention created change in healthy food consumption. Self-as-doer participants ate more healthy foods one month post-intervention than did other participants. Self-as-doer participants maintained overall healthy eating behaviors while education and control participants decreased these behaviors over the six-week period. Findings demonstrate initial evidence of an intervention effect on healthy food consumption and we discuss ways to advance research on the self-as-doer identity construct.

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Social Norms Shift Behavioral and Neural Responses to Foods

Erik Nook & Jamil Zaki
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, July 2015, Pages 1412-1426

Abstract:
Obesity contributes to 2.8 million deaths annually, making interventions to promote healthy eating critical. Although preliminary research suggests that social norms influence eating behavior, the underlying psychological and neural mechanisms of such conformity remain unexplored. We used fMRI to investigate whether group norms shift individuals' preferences for foods at both behavioral and neural levels. Hungry participants rated how much they wanted to eat a series of healthy and unhealthy foods and, after each trial, saw ratings that ostensibly represented their peers' preferences. This feedback was manipulated such that peers appeared to prefer each food more than, less than, or as much as participants themselves. After a delay, participants rerated each food. Participants' second ratings shifted to resemble group norms. Initial consensus, as compared to disagreement, with peers produced activity in the nucleus accumbens, a region associated with reward prediction errors. Furthermore, the strength of this activity predicted the extent to which participants' ratings conformed to peer ratings, suggesting that the value associated with consensus drives social influence. Ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vMPFC), a region associated with value computation, initially responded more strongly to unhealthy, as compared to healthy, foods. However, this effect was “overwritten” by group norms. After individuals learned their peers' preferences, vMPFC responses tracked the popularity, but not the healthfulness, of foods. Furthermore, changes in vMPFC activity tracked social influence over behavioral ratings. These data provide evidence that group norms can shift food preferences, supporting the use of norms-based interventions to promote healthy eating.

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Genotype status of the dopamine-related catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene corresponds with desirability of “unhealthy” foods

Deanna Wallace et al.
Appetite, September 2015, Pages 74–80

Abstract:
The role of dopamine is extensively documented in weight regulation and food intake in both animal models and humans. Yet the role of dopamine has not been well studied in individual differences for food desirability. Genotype status of the dopamine-related catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene has been shown to influence dopamine levels, with greater COMT enzymatic activity in val/val individuals corresponding to greater degradation of dopamine. Decreased dopamine has been associated with poorer cognitive control and diminished goal-directed behavior in various behavioral paradigms. Additionally, dopaminergic-rich regions such as the frontal cortex and dorsal striatum have been shown to be important for supporting food-related decision-making. However, the role of dopamine, as assessed by COMT genotype status, in food desirability has not been fully explored. Therefore, we utilized an individual's COMT genotype status (n = 61) and investigated food desirability based on self-rated “healthy” and “unhealthy” food perceptions. Here we found val/val individuals (n = 19) have greater desirability for self-rated “unhealthy” food items, but not self-rated “healthy” food items, as compared to val/met (n = 24) and met/met (n = 18) individuals (p < 0.005). Utilizing an objective health measure for the food items, we also found val/val and val/met individuals have greater desirability for objectively defined “unhealthy” food items, as compared to met/met individuals (p < 0.01). This work further substantiates the role of dopamine in food-related behaviors and more specifically in relationship to food desirability for “unhealthy” food items.

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Immigrant Neighborhood Concentration, Acculturation and Obesity Among Young Adults

Hiromi Ishizawa & Antwan Jones
Journal of Urban Affairs, forthcoming

Abstract:
Researchers repeatedly find that immigrants are healthier than their native-born counterparts. Among immigrant children, however, findings are mixed. Moreover, the effect of neighborhood context on obesity has not been fully examined. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adult Health, this study investigates the linkages between acculturation, neighborhood characteristics, and obesity among young adults, including the potential for residing in an immigrant neighborhood, to mediate the adverse effects of low neighborhood socioeconomic conditions on obesity. Consistent with the unhealthy assimilation model, an immigrant health advantage is found for first generation Asians. Conversely, a greater likelihood of being obese is found for second and third and higher generation Hispanics relative to third and higher generation Whites. Further, a high concentration of immigrants and linguistically isolated households appear to work as a buffer against health risks that relate to obesity, particularly in poor neighborhoods.

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Evolution of nutritional quality in the US: Evidence from the ready-to-eat cereal industry

Emily Wang, Christian Rojas & Christoph Bauner
Economics Letters, August 2015, Pages 105–108

Abstract:
We construct historical nutrition quality indices for the ready-to-eat cereal industry and find that: 1) there exists a discrepancy between the nutrition quality of available products and that of the actual intake, 2) nutrition quality declined between 1988 and 2001 but has been increasing since then (although levels are still lower than in 1988), and 3) the decline in nutritional quality intake cannot be attributed to pricier or a limited availability of healthier options.

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Differential effects of fructose versus glucose on brain and appetitive responses to food cues and decisions for food rewards

Shan Luo et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 19 May 2015, Pages 6509–6514

Abstract:
Prior studies suggest that fructose compared with glucose may be a weaker suppressor of appetite, and neuroimaging research shows that food cues trigger greater brain reward responses in a fasted relative to a fed state. We sought to determine the effects of ingesting fructose versus glucose on brain, hormone, and appetitive responses to food cues and food-approach behavior. Twenty-four healthy volunteers underwent two functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) sessions with ingestion of either fructose or glucose in a double-blinded, random-order cross-over design. fMRI was performed while participants viewed images of high-calorie foods and nonfood items using a block design. After each block, participants rated hunger and desire for food. Participants also performed a decision task in which they chose between immediate food rewards and delayed monetary bonuses. Hormones were measured at baseline and 30 and 60 min after drink ingestion. Ingestion of fructose relative to glucose resulted in smaller increases in plasma insulin levels and greater brain reactivity to food cues in the visual cortex (in whole-brain analysis) and left orbital frontal cortex (in region-of-interest analysis). Parallel to the neuroimaging findings, fructose versus glucose led to greater hunger and desire for food and a greater willingness to give up long-term monetary rewards to obtain immediate high-calorie foods. These findings suggest that ingestion of fructose relative to glucose results in greater activation of brain regions involved in attention and reward processing and may promote feeding behavior.

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Individual Differences in Reward and Somatosensory-Motor Brain Regions Correlate with Adiposity in Adolescents

Kristina Rapuano et al.
Cerebral Cortex, forthcoming

Abstract:
The prevalence of adolescent obesity has increased dramatically over the past 3 decades, and research has documented that the number of television shows viewed during childhood is associated with greater risk for obesity. In particular, considerable evidence suggests that exposure to food marketing promotes eating habits that contribute to obesity. The present study examines neural responses to dynamic food commercials in overweight and healthy-weight adolescents using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Compared with non-food commercials, food commercials more strongly engaged regions involved in attention and saliency detection (occipital lobe, precuneus, superior temporal gyri, and right insula) and in processing rewards [left and right nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and left orbitofrontal cortex (OFC)]. Activity in the left OFC and right insula further correlated with subjects' percent body fat at the time of the scan. Interestingly, this reward-related activity to food commercials was accompanied by the additional recruitment of mouth-specific somatosensory-motor cortices — a finding that suggests the intriguing possibility that higher-adiposity adolescents mentally simulate eating behaviors and offers a potential neural mechanism for the formation and reinforcement of unhealthy eating habits that may hamper an individual's ability lose weight later in life.

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Manipulations of attention during eating and their effects on later snack intake

Suzanne Higgs
Appetite, September 2015, Pages 287–294

Abstract:
Manipulation of attention during eating has been reported to affect later consumption via changes in meal memory. The aim of the present studies was to examine the robustness of these effects and investigate moderating factors. Across three studies, attention to eating was manipulated via distraction (via a computer game or TV watching) or focusing of attention to eating, and effects on subsequent snack consumption and meal memory were assessed. The participants were predominantly lean, young women students and the designs were between-subjects. Distraction increased later snack intake and this effect was larger when participants were more motivated to engage with the distracter and were offset when the distractor included food-related cues. Attention to eating reduced later snacking and this effect was larger when participants imagined eating from their own perspective than when they imagined eating from a third person perspective. Meal memory was impaired after distraction but focusing on eating did not affect later meal memory, possibly explained by ceiling effects for the memory measure. The pattern of results suggests that attention manipulations during eating have robust effects on later eating and the effect sizes are medium to large. The data are consistent with previous reports and add to the literature by suggesting that type of attention manipulation is important in determining effects on later eating. The results further suggest that attentive eating may be a useful target in interventions to help with appetite control.

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LA sprouts randomized controlled nutrition and gardening program reduces obesity and metabolic risk in Latino youth

Nicole Gatto et al.
Obesity, June 2015, Pages 1244–1251

Objective: To assess the effects of a 12-week gardening, nutrition, and cooking intervention (“LA Sprouts”) on dietary intake, obesity parameters, and metabolic disease risk among low-income, primarily Hispanic/Latino youth in Los Angeles.

Methods: The randomized controlled trial involved four elementary schools [two schools randomized to intervention (172 third–through fifth-grade students); two schools randomized to control (147 third–through fifth-grade students)]. Classes were taught in 90-minute sessions once a week to each grade level for 12 weeks. Data collected at pre- and postintervention included dietary intake via food frequency questionnaire (FFQ), anthropometric measures [BMI, waist circumference (WC)], body fat, and fasting blood samples.

Results: LA Sprouts participants had significantly greater reductions in BMI z-scores (0.1-vs. 0.04-point decrease, respectively; P = 0.01) and WC (−1.2 cm vs. no change; P < 0.001). Fewer LA Sprouts participants had the metabolic syndrome (MetSyn) after the intervention than before, while the number of controls with MetSyn increased. LA Sprouts participants had improvements in dietary fiber intake (+3.5% vs. −15.5%; P = 0.04) and less decreases in vegetable intake (−3.6% vs. −26.4%; P = 0.04). Change in fruit intake before and after the intervention did not significantly differ between LA Sprouts and control subjects.

Conclusions: LA Sprouts was effective in reducing obesity and metabolic risk.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, June 29, 2015

Top dog

Poor performance and the value of corporate honesty

Don Chance, James Cicon & Stephen Ferris
Journal of Corporate Finance, August 2015, Pages 1-18

Abstract:
We examine a sample of companies that make announcements attributing blame for recent poor performance to either themselves or an external factor. We find that both groups of companies exhibit poor company-specific performance prior to the announcement, indicating that companies blaming external factors are not being truthful. Following the announcement, companies that blame themselves begin to perform better while those that blame others continue their weak performance. We find no differences in the financial and governance characteristics of these companies. Companies that blame themselves, however, provide more detailed information about the source of the problem, while those that blame others offer only vague generalizations. Our results suggest that managerial honesty and forthrightness have value to shareholders since they imply that the company is more likely to make the corrections necessary to achieve stronger future performance.

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The Long-Term Effects of Hedge Fund Activism

Lucian Bebchuk, Alon Brav & Wei Jiang
NBER Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
We test the empirical validity of a claim that has been playing a central role in debates on corporate governance - the claim that interventions by activist hedge funds have a negative effect on the long-term shareholder value and corporate performance. We subject this claim to a comprehensive empirical investigation, examining a long five-year window following activist interventions, and we find that the claim is not supported by the data. We find no evidence that activist interventions, including the investment-limiting and adversarial interventions that are most resisted and criticized, are followed by short-term gains in performance that come at the expense of long-term performance. We also find no evidence that the initial positive stock-price spike accompanying activist interventions tends to be followed by negative abnormal returns in the long term; to the contrary, the evidence is consistent with the initial spike reflecting correctly the intervention's long-term consequences. Similarly, we find no evidence for pump-and-dump patterns in which the exit of an activist is followed by abnormal long-term negative returns. Our findings have significant implications for ongoing policy debates.

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Restraining Overconfident CEOs through Improved Governance: Evidence from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act

Suman Banerjee, Mark Humphery-Jenner & Vikram Nanda
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
The literature posits that some CEO overconfidence benefits shareholders, though high levels may not. We argue that adequate controls and independent viewpoints provided by an independent board mitigates the costs of CEO overconfidence. We use the concurrent passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and changes to the NYSE/NASDAQ listing rules (collectively, SOX) as natural experiments, to examine whether board independence improves decision making by overconfident CEOs. The results are strongly supportive: after SOX, overconfident CEOs reduce investment and risk exposure, increase dividends, improve postacquisition performance, and have better operating performance and market value. Importantly, these changes are absent for overconfident-CEO firms that were compliant prior to SOX.

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Which Spoken Language Markers Identify Deception in High-Stakes Settings? Evidence From Earnings Conference Calls

Judee Burgoon et al.
Journal of Language and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Quarterly conference calls where corporate executives discuss earnings that are later found to be misreported offer an excellent test bed for determining if automated linguistic and vocalic analysis tools can identify potentially fraudulent utterances in prepared versus unscripted remarks. Earnings conference calls from one company that restated their financial reports and were accused of making misleading statements were annotated as restatement-relevant (or not) and as prepared (presentation) or unprepared (Q&A) responses. We submitted more than 1,000 utterances to automated analysis to identify distinct linguistic and vocalic features that characterize various types of utterances. Restatement-related utterances differed significantly on many vocal and linguistic dimensions. These results support the value of language and vocal features in identifying potentially fraudulent utterances and suggest important interplay between utterances that are unscripted responses rather than rehearsed statements.

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Directors' and officers' liability insurance and the cost of equity

Zhihong Chen, Oliver Zhen Li & Hong Zou
Journal of Accounting and Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine whether directors' and officers' (D&O) liability insurance affects a firm's cost of equity. We find a positive association between D&O insurance and the cost of equity. Information quality and risk-taking appear to be two underlying channels through which D&O insurance affects the cost of equity. Further tests suggest that this positive association is not due to optimal risk-taking, as evidenced by a negative market reaction to an increase in D&O insurance coverage, a lack of improvement in firms' cash flow and a low valuation associated with D&O insurance. Overall, our evidence is consistent with the notion that D&O insurance weakens the disciplining effect of shareholder litigation, leading to an increase in the cost of equity.

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Directors' and officers' legal liability insurance and audit pricing

Hyeesoo (Sally) Chung, Stephen Hillegeist & Jinyoung Wynn
Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Directors' and officers' (D&O) legal liability insurance is commonly provided to corporate executives and directors. Prior literature suggests managers are more willing to engage in opportunistic behaviors when their personal assets are more protected from litigation risk. Therefore, information about D&O policy details is potentially useful in assessing potential managerial opportunism. However, many countries, including the U.S., do not require firms to disclose this information. We provide evidence on whether mandatory D&O disclosures are likely to provide information about managerial opportunism that is incremental to that provided by other sources of information using a sample of Canadian firms, who are required to make D&O disclosures. We examine the association between excess D&O coverage limits and audit fees since auditors have extensive private information about the likelihood of managerial opportunism and strong incentives to incorporate this information into their audit fees. We find a positive association between excess D&O coverage limits and audit fees after controlling for numerous other audit fee determinants, including other proxies for managerial opportunism such as discretionary accruals and corporate governance variables. Additional analyses suggest auditors are more sensitive to potential managerial opportunism when managers are more likely to act on their opportunistic incentives. We also find a positive association between excess D&O coverage limits and the likelihood of future shareholder litigation. Our findings suggest that D&O insurance disclosures convey incremental information to shareholders and other capital market participants. As such, they suggest a beneficial role for mandatory D&O disclosures.

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Do Director Elections Matter?

Vyacheslav Fos, Kai Li & Margarita Tsoutsoura
University of Chicago Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
Using a hand-collected sample of more than 30,000 directors nominated for election over the period 2001-2010, we construct a novel measure of director proximity to elections - Closeness-to-election. We find that the closer a director is to her next election, the higher is CEO turnover-performance sensitivity. Each year closer to director elections is associated with a 23% increase in CEO turnover-performance sensitivity. Three tests support a causal interpretation of the results. First, when we require directors to have a minimum tenure of three years, there is no material change in the results, suggesting that the timing of when directors join their boards is unlikely to drive the results. Second, we find similar results when we use director Closeness-to-election on other boards as a measure of proximity to elections. Third, when we restrict the analysis to firms with unitary boards, there is no material change in the results, suggesting that director self-selection into firms with staggered boards does not drive the results. Cross-sectional tests suggest that, when other governance mechanisms are in place, CEO turnover-performance sensitivity is affected to a lesser extent by Closeness-to-election. We conclude that director elections have important implications for corporate governance.

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Auditor Conservatism, Incentive Compensation, and the Quality of Financial Reporting

Ravi Singh & Ian Larkin
Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines how performance-based compensation for managers influences their reporting behavior and the resulting stance auditors take when deciding whether to certify a manager's report. The paper makes endogenous the stance auditors take: with a more conservative stance, auditors are less likely to certify an inflated report, but are more likely to refuse to certify an accurate one. The auditor's tradeoff between these two error types, and the resulting interplay with the level of performance-based pay for managers, play a critical role in determining the level of managerial misreporting, investor welfare, and a number of other key variables. The paper finds that (1) strengthening the link between pay and reported performance can result in a weaker link between pay and actual performance and, consequently, lower managerial effort; (2) conservatism among auditors improves performance measurement; and (3) raising penalties on managers for overstating earnings can reduce audit quality and harm investors, while raising penalties on auditors for certifying overstated results does not harm investors.

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Saving face? When emotion displays during public apologies mitigate damage to organizational performance

Leanne ten Brinke & Gabrielle Adams
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, September 2015, Pages 1-12

Abstract:
In the wake of corporate transgressions and scandals, how do apologizers' expressed emotions affect investors' perceptions of the organization in question? We analyzed the market effects of normative versus deviant facial affect expressed during apologies for corporate wrongdoing. Archival data revealed that the expression of deviant affect was associated with decreased investor confidence in the form of negative stock market returns; adverse financial effects persisted up to three months post-apology. Moreover, this effect was exacerbated when a company representative with greater responsibility within the organization delivered the apology. Experimental data further revealed that third parties interpreted deviant affect (smiling) as a signal of insincerity, which reduced their confidence in these representatives' organizations. Ultimately, we find that subtle emotion expressions are detected by stakeholders, signal insincerity, and have important consequences for organizations. We suggest that organizations must carefully consider the nonverbal behavior of apologetic representatives in the wake of transgressions.

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Ready, AIM, acquire: Impression offsetting and acquisitions

Scott Graffin, Jerayr Haleblian & Jason Kiley
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Drawing on expectancy violation theory, we explore the effects of anticipatory impression management in the context of acquisitions. We introduce impression offsetting, an anticipatory impression management technique organizational leaders employ when they expect a focal event will negatively violate the expectations of external stakeholders. Accordingly, in these situations, organizational leaders will announce the focal event contemporaneously with positive, but unrelated information. We predict impression offsetting will generally occur in the context of acquisitions, but also more frequently for specific acquiring firms and acquisitions that are more likely to lead to an expectancy violation. We also posit that offsetting will effectively inhibit observers' perceptions of events as negative expectancy violations by positively influencing shareholder reactions to acquisition announcements. Consistent with our hypotheses, in a sample of publicly traded acquisition targets, we find evidence for impression offsetting, in which characteristics of both acquirers and their announced acquisitions predict its frequency of use. We also find evidence that impression offsetting is efficacious; on average, it reduces the negative market reaction to acquisition announcements by over 40 percent, which translates into approximately $246 million in market capitalization.

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The effect of institutional ownership on firm transparency and information production

Audra Boone & Joshua White
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the effects of institutional ownership on firms' information and trading environments using the annual Russell 1000/2000 index reconstitution. Characteristics of firms near the index cutoffs are similar, except that firms in the top of the Russell 2000 have discontinuously higher proportional institutional ownership than firms in the bottom of the Russell 1000 primarily due to indexing and benchmarking strategies. We find that higher institutional ownership is associated with greater management disclosure, analyst following, and liquidity, resulting in lower information asymmetry. Overall, indexing institutions' predilection for lower information asymmetries facilitates information production, which enhances monitoring and decreases trading costs.

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CEO Side-Payments in M&A Deals

Brian Broughman
Indiana University Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
In addition to golden parachutes, CEOs often negotiate for personal side-payments in connection with the sale of their firm. Side-payments differ from golden parachutes in that they are negotiated ex post in connection with a specific acquisition proposal, whereas golden parachutes are part of the executive's employment agreement negotiated when she is hired. While side-payments may benefit shareholders by countering managerial resistance to an efficient sale, they can also be used to redistribute merger proceeds to management. The current article highlights an overlooked distinction between pre-merger golden parachutes and merger side-payments. Similar to a legislative rider attached to a popular bill, management can bundle a side-payment with an acquisition that is desired by target shareholders. Thus, even if shareholders would not have approved the side-payment for purposes of ex ante incentives, it may receive shareholder support as part of a take-it-or-leave-it merger vote. Because side-payments are bundled into a merger transaction, voting rights cannot adequately protect shareholders against rent extraction. My analysis helps explain empirical results which show that target CEOs sometimes bargain away shareholder returns in exchange for personal side-payments. I conclude with legal reforms to help unbundle side-payments from the broader merger vote.

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Active Firms and Active Shareholders: Corporate Political Activity and Shareholder Proposals

Geeyoung Min & Hye Young You
University of Virginia Working Paper, April 2015

Abstract:
Corporate political activity has become one of shareholders' top concerns. We examine whether firms targeted by shareholder proposals show different campaign contributions and lobbying activities compared to non-targeted firms. We also ask whether different sponsors of shareholder proposals target different firms depending on the firms' partisan orientation. Using data on S&P 500 companies during the period between 2007 and 2013, we find that firms that spend more on campaign contributions and lobbying are more likely to be targeted by shareholder proposals. After controlling for firms' financial performance, governance characteristics and ownership structure, we also find that public pension funds and labor unions sponsors are more likely to target Republican-leaning firms, measured by the firms' campaign contributions. This finding suggests that increasing corporate political activity can intensify a tension between management and public pension fund and labor union shareholders and lead to more activism by these shareholders.

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The determinants of effective corporate lobbying

Richard Borghesi & Kiyoung Chang
Journal of Economics and Finance, July 2015, Pages 606-624

Abstract:
In this paper we study whether capital markets view lobbying activities to be value enhancing by examining the effects of lobbying on excess returns and stock return volatility. We undertake our analysis cautious that there are significant differences between the characteristics of lobbying and non-lobbying firms. Specifically, firm size, free cash flows, and R&D intensity are critically important factors that may drive results of our and other lobbying research. We show that once properly accounting for the effects of firm size, a managerial agency problem in lobbying is apparent. Initially we find that shareholders experience either no discernible or else negative excess returns in response to firm lobbing efforts. Results are even stronger when corrections are made for endogeneity issues. Further, evidence presented suggests that lobbying firms have higher volatility of stock returns, and we show that volatility is greater for firms that lobby more intensely. However, for R&D-intensive firms, and for those firms with low agency problems, lobbying does contribute to the long-term benefit of shareholders. Overall, results suggest that lobbying leads to positive excess returns when agency problems are low and R&D is high, and leads to negative excess returns otherwise.

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The Power of Shareholder Votes: Evidence from Director Elections

Reena Aggarwal, Sandeep Dahiya & Nagpurnanand Prabhala
University of Maryland Working Paper, May 2015

Abstract:
In the U.S., votes in director elections are advisory but are often used by shareholders to express dissent. We examine whether these non-binding votes have consequences for directors and report affirmative evidence. Directors facing dissent are more likely to depart boards, especially if they are not lead directors or chairs of important committees. Directors facing dissent who do not leave are moved to less prominent positions in boards. These effects are more pronounced in firms with greater ownership by institutional investors who pose exit threats. Finally, we find evidence that directors facing dissent face reduced opportunities in the market for directors, consistent with the Fama and Jensen (1983) view of the disciplining role of the market for directors. We show that contrary to popular belief, shareholder votes have power and result in negative consequences for directors. We also find that the effects of dissent votes go beyond those of proxy advisor recommendations.

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Social learning and corporate peer effects

Markku Kaustia & Ville Rantala
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We find that firms are more likely to split their stock if their peer firms have recently done so. The effect is comparable to an increase of 40-50% in the share price. Splitting probability is also increasing in the announcement returns of peer splits. These results are consistent with social learning from peers' actions and outcomes. The unique features of the setting and various further tests render alternative explanations unlikely. We find no clear benefit in following successful peer splitters. Firms are sometimes suspected to succumb to imitation, and the effect we show could be a case in point.

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Does the Firm Information Environment Influence Financing Decisions? A Test Using Disclosure Regulation

Susan Albring et al.
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Extant theory claims a firm's information environment impacts the choice between debt and equity financing. However, empirical evidence supporting this contention is limited. We evaluate this relation within the context of Regulation Fair Disclosure (Reg FD), which prohibited the use of selective disclosure. We find that firms with high proprietary costs of public disclosure are more likely to resort to debt financing following the passage of Reg FD. This relation is not sensitive to whether a firm has relied on selective disclosure in the pre-Reg FD regime. We also evaluate changes in firm disclosure policy and find that firms that adopted an expansive public disclosure policy are more likely to turn to equity financing. Overall, our evidence is consistent with the pecking order theory: firms with deteriorated firm information environments increase their use of less information-sensitive debt, whereas firms with improved information environments favor the use of equity financing.

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Insider sales and the effectiveness of clawback adoptions in mitigating fraud risk

Simon Yu Kit Fung et al.
Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
In recent years, firms (and lawmakers) have sought to mitigate the dysfunctional effects of incentive-based executive compensation by adopting clawbacks. However, extant clawbacks (whether firm-initiated or as mandated by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act) do not go far enough in that they seem to allow executives to retain trading profits linked to sales of their own companies' shares at a time of inflated earnings (Fried and Shilon, 2011). In this paper, we examine the moderating effect of insider sales on the relation between firm-initiated clawback-adoptions and fraud risk. Our results indicate that clawback-adopting firms experience a decrease in fraud risk following adoption relative to non-adopters during the same time period. However, this decrease in fraud risk for the clawback-adopting firms is materially weakened in the presence of insider trading. At this time (July 2014), the SEC is still working on rules for implementing clawbacks (one of nearly half of the rules yet to be completed under Dodd-Frank). Our findings suggest that clawback rules (as and when issued by the SEC) need to address insider sales for clawbacks to be fully effective in mitigating the risk of fraudulent financial reporting.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Playing well with others

Do Reputation Systems Undermine Trust? Divergent Effects of Enforcement Type on Generalized Trust and Trustworthiness

Ko Kuwabara
American Journal of Sociology, March 2015, Pages 1390-1428

Abstract:
Research shows that enforcing cooperation using contracts or tangible sanctions can backfire, undermining people’s intrinsic motivation to cooperate: when the enforcement is removed, people are less trusting or trustworthy than when there is no enforcement to begin with. The author examines whether reputation systems have similar consequences for generalized trust and trustworthiness. Using a web-based experiment simulating online market transactions (studies 1 and 2), he shows that reputation systems can reinforce generalized trust and trustworthiness, unlike contractual enforcement or relational enforcement based on repeated interactions. In a survey experiment (study 3), he finds that recalling their eBay feedback scores made participants more trusting and trustworthy. These results are predicated on the diffuse nature of reputational enforcement to reinforce perceptions of trust and trustworthiness. These results have implications for understanding how different forms of governance affect generalized trust and trustworthiness.

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Do people like working with computers more than human beings?

Marek Posard & Gordon Rinderknecht
Computers in Human Behavior, October 2015, Pages 232–238

Abstract:
This paper incorporates the concept of mindlessness from research on human–computer interactions with social exchange theory from sociology. We find that participants behaved no differently toward human or computerized partners during a repeated standard trust game. Despite exhibiting similar behaviors with these partners, participants believed that computers were more likely to share their interests during this game than humans. These participants also reported higher levels of commitment with computerized partners than human partners. Our results suggest that asking about social constructs (i.e. commitment) will break mindlessness in human–computer interactions. These results also highlight a disconnect between individual behaviors and their perceptions during human–computer interactions. We conclude that telling participants their partners are computers may actually improve their perceptions of interactions after they occur.

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The Effect of the “Evoking Freedom” Technique on an Unusual and Disturbing Request

Nicolas Guéguen et al.
Psychological Reports, June 2015, Pages 936-940

Abstract:
The “evoking freedom” technique consists in soliciting someone to comply with a request by simply saying that she is free to accept or to refuse the request. However, previous studies used low cost requests. The present study examined the magnitude of this technique associated with a more disturbing and costly request. Sixty men and 60 women aged approximately 20–25 years walking in the street were asked by a male confederate to hold a closed transparent box containing a live trap-door spider while he went into the post office to pick up a package. In the evoking freedom condition, the confederate added in his request that the participant was “free to accept or to refuse.” More compliance occurred in the “evoking freedom” condition (53.3%) than in the control condition (36.7%). These results confirm the robustness and the magnitude of the evoking freedom technique on compliance and show that this technique remained effective even when the request was psychologically costly to perform and was associated with fear.

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Letting Down the Team? Social Effects of Team Incentives

Philip Babcock et al.
Journal of the European Economic Association, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper estimates social effects of incentivizing people in teams. In three field experiments featuring exogenous team formation and opportunities for repeated social interactions, we find large team effects that operate through social channels. In particular, assignment to a team treatment increases productivity by 9–17% relative to an individual incentive treatment, even though the individual incentive yields a higher private return. Further, we find that in a choice treatment individuals overwhelmingly prefer the individual incentive to the team incentive, despite the latter being more effective. These results are most consistent with the team effects operating through guilt or social pressure as opposed to pure altruism.

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Selfish third parties act as peacemakers by transforming conflicts and promoting cooperation

Nir Halevy & Eliran Halali
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2 June 2015, Pages 6937–6942

Abstract:
The tremendous costs of conflict have made humans resourceful not only at warfare but also at peacemaking. Although third parties have acted as peacemakers since the dawn of history, little is known about voluntary, informal third-party intervention in conflict. Here we introduce the Peacemaker Game, a novel experimental paradigm, to model and study the interdependence between disputants and third parties in conflict. In the game, two disputants choose whether to cooperate or compete and a third party chooses whether or not to intervene in the conflict. Intervention introduces side payments that transform the game disputants are playing; it also introduces risk for the third party by making it vulnerable to disputants’ choices. Six experiments revealed three robust effects: (i) The mere possibility of third-party intervention significantly increases cooperation in interpersonal and intergroup conflicts; (ii) reducing the risk to third parties dramatically increases intervention rates, to everyone’s benefit; and (iii) disputants’ cooperation rates are consistently higher than third parties’ intervention rates. These findings explain why, how, and when self-interested third parties facilitate peaceful conflict resolution.

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Can Social Preferences Explain Gender Differences in Economic Behavior?

Linda Kamas & Anne Preston
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines whether gender differences in some economic behaviors are due to differences in social preferences as measured by dictator allocation decisions. We find that, compared to men, women are significantly more likely to be inequity averters and significantly less likely to be social surplus maximizers. These differences in social preferences explain to a large extent why women send less than men in trust games. Inequity averters can ensure equal payoffs if nothing is returned by sending one-fourth of the endowment while surplus maximizers can increase total payoffs by a factor of three for each dollar sent. Social preferences also help explain the size of gifts in dictator games and choice of compensation method for simple tasks, however, after controlling for social preference type, gender is still influential in these decisions. Women give significantly more to charity than men even after accounting for our measure of social preferences. Women prefer egalitarian payment systems both because they are inequity averters and because low self-confidence may lead them to believe they will earn more with equal sharing.

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Generalizing Trust: The Benign Force of Emancipation

Christian Welzel & Jan Delhey
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Trust in people is general insofar as it extends to out-groups, that is, unfamiliar and dissimilar others. But whether trust in out-groups can emerge independently from in-group trust is controversial, and conclusive evidence has been unavailable. This article fills this gap, analyzing which conditions create out-group trust independent from in-group trust. Using data from 76 countries around the world, we establish three insights. First, while a high level of in-group trust is the rule, out-group trust varies greatly across countries. Second, out-group trust emerges independent from in-group trust when human empowerment emancipates people from in-group control. Third, other conditions championed as trust-crediting forces do not confound the effect of human empowerment. In conclusion, trust generalizes to out-groups as a result of human empowerment’s emancipatory impulse.

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Cheap Talk, Round Numbers, and the Economics of Negotiation

Matthew Backus, Tom Blake & Steven Tadelis
NBER Working Paper, June 2015

Abstract:
Can sellers credibly signal their private information to reduce frictions in negotiations? Guided by a simple cheap-talk model, we posit that impatient sellers use round numbers to signal their willingness to cut prices in order to sell faster, and test its implications using millions of online bargaining interactions. Items listed at multiples of $100 receive offers that are 5% - 8% lower but that arrive 6 - 11 days sooner than listings at neighboring "precise" values, and are 3% - 5% more likely to sell. Similar patterns in real estate transactions suggest that round-number signaling plays a broader role in negotiations.

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Is Trust Rigid or Malleable? A Laboratory Experiment

Pamela Paxton & Jennifer Glanville
Social Psychology Quarterly, June 2015, Pages 194-204

Abstract:
An important debate within the trust literature is whether trust is modified by social experiences or resistant to change despite changing social circumstances. We address this debate by designing and implementing an experiment that exposes participants to a high or low trust environment and compares their change in generalized trust. We find that the experimental condition influences change in generalized trust, particularly for participants whose prior level of trust was mismatched with their experimental condition. The implications of these results for theories on the sources of trust are discussed.

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Building trust: Heart rate synchrony and arousal during joint action increased by public goods game

Panagiotis Mitkidis et al.
Physiology & Behavior, October 2015, Pages 101–106

Abstract:
The physiological processes underlying trust are subject of intense interest in the behavioral sciences. However, very little is known about how trust modulates the affective link between individuals. We show here that trust has an effect on heart rate arousal and synchrony, a result consistent with research on joint action and experimental economics. We engaged participants in a series of joint action tasks which, for one group of participants, was interleaved with a PGG, and measured their heart synchrony and arousal. We found that the introduction of the economic game shifted participants' attention to the dynamics of the interaction. This was followed by increased arousal and synchrony of heart rate profiles. Also, the degree of heart rate synchrony was predictive of participants' expectations regarding their partners in the economic game. We conclude that the above changes in physiology and behavior are shaped by the valuation of other people's social behavior, and ultimately indicate trust building process.

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Sustained cooperation by running away from bad behavior

Charles Efferson et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
For cooperation to evolve, some mechanism must limit the rate at which cooperators are exposed to defectors. Only then can the advantages of mutual cooperation outweigh the costs of being exploited. Although researchers widely agree on this, they disagree intensely about which evolutionary mechanisms can explain the extraordinary cooperation exhibited by humans. Much of the controversy follows from disagreements about the informational regularity that allows cooperators to avoid defectors. Reliable information can allow cooperative individuals to avoid exploitation, but which mechanisms can sustain such a situation is a matter of considerable dispute. We conducted a behavioral experiment to see if cooperators could avoid defectors when provided with limited amounts of explicit information. We gave each participant the simple option to move away from her current neighborhood at any time. Participants were not identifiable as individuals, and they could not track each other’s tendency to behave more or less cooperatively. More broadly, a participant had no information about the behavior she was likely to encounter if she moved, and so information about the risk of exploitation was extremely limited. Nonetheless, our results show that simply providing the option to move allowed cooperation to persist for a long period of time. Our results further show that movement, even though it involved considerable uncertainty, allowed would-be cooperators to assort positively and eliminate on average any individual payoff disadvantage associated with cooperation. This suggests that choosing to move, even under limited information, can completely reorganize the mix of selective forces relevant for the evolution of cooperation.

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Cynical Beliefs About Human Nature and Income: Longitudinal and Cross-Cultural Analyses

Olga Stavrova & Daniel Ehlebracht
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Based on the existing literature on worldview beliefs, cynical hostility, and Machiavellian cynicism, we suggest that holding cynical beliefs about human nature can be detrimental for individuals’ income. Cynical individuals are more likely to avoid cooperation and trust or to overinvest in monitoring, control, and other means of protection from potential exploitation. As a result, they are more likely to forgo valuable opportunities for cooperation and consequently less likely to reap the benefits of joint efforts and mutual help compared with their less cynical counterparts. Studies 1 and 2, using nationally representative longitudinal surveys of the American population, show that individuals who endorsed cynical beliefs about human nature at baseline earned comparatively lower incomes 9 (Study 1) and 2 (Study 2) years later. In Study 3, applying a multilevel model of change to a nationally representative panel study of the German population, we show that cynical beliefs at baseline undermined an income increase in the course of the following 9 years. In Study 4, the negative effect of cynical beliefs on income proved to be independent of individual differences in the Big Five personality dimensions. Study 5 provided the first tentative evidence of the hypothesized mechanism underlying this effect. Using survey data from 41 countries, it revealed that the negative effect of cynical beliefs on income is alleviated in sociocultural contexts with low levels of prosocial behavior, high homicide rates and high overall societal cynicism levels. Holding cynical beliefs about others has negative economic outcomes unless such beliefs hold true.

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Communicating With Distant Others: The Functional Use of Abstraction

Priyanka Joshi et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We introduce the construct of relational scope to refer to the degree to which an individual engages in communication with a more or less distant audience, with a contractive relational scope indicating a near audience and an expansive relational scope indicating a distant audience. Drawing on construal level theory, we argue that speakers use abstract messages strategically when faced with an expansive relational scope in order to be widely relevant and relatable. We show that speakers communicate more abstractly with distant others than near others (Studies 1–3) and experience greater fit when message framing matches audience distance (Study 4). We also demonstrate that framing messages abstractly prompts broader relational scope, with speakers more likely to direct concrete (abstract) messages to near (distal) audiences (Study 5). Finally, we show that when procedural information is critical to communication, communication with distant (vs. proximal) others will increasingly emphasize procedures over end states (Study 6).

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How to dissolve fixed-pie bias in negotiation? Social antecedents and the mediating effect of mental-model adjustment

Wu Liu, Leigh Anne Liu & Jian-Dong Zhang
Journal of Organizational Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Fixed-pie bias, defined as the erroneous belief that the other negotiation party's interest is directly opposite to one's own, has been a consistent hurdle that negotiators must overcome in their efforts to achieve optimal negotiation outcomes. In this study, we explore the underlying cognitive mechanism and the social antecedents of fixed-pie bias reduction in negotiation. Using data from a negotiation simulation with 256 participants, we found that mental-model adjustments made by negotiators could effectively decrease fixed-pie bias. More interestingly, we also found that negotiators were less likely to reduce fixed-pie bias when negotiating with an in-group member than with an out-group member but only under a high accountability condition. Finally, we found that mental-model adjustment mediated the effects of the aforementioned social antecedents (in-groupness and accountability) on reduced fixed-pie bias. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings.

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“Self-promotion”: How regulatory focus affects the pursuit of self-interest at the expense of the group

Maarten Zaal et al.
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Self-interested behavior may have positive consequences for individual group-members, but also negatively affects the outcomes of the group when group-level and individual-level interests are misaligned. In two studies, we examined such self-interested, group-undermining behavior from the perspective of regulatory focus theory. We predicted that when individual and group interests are out of alignment, individuals under promotion focus would be more likely than individuals under prevention focus to pursue individual success at the expense of their group. Two studies provided support for this prediction. Promotion oriented individuals were more willing to act in their self-interest (at the expense of their group) than individuals under prevention focus when self-interested goals were not compatible with cooperation. No effect of regulatory focus on group loyalty was found when cooperation formed the only viable route to individual success. We discuss how these findings extend our understanding of the role of regulatory focus in social situations and of the practice of ensuring loyalty in contexts where individual and group goals are misaligned while cooperation is an important part of group success.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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