Of Two Minds

Kevin Lewis

June 26, 2022

Taking a Disagreeing Perspective Improves the Accuracy of People’s Quantitative Estimates
Philippe Van de Calseyde & Emir Efendić
Psychological Science, June 2022, Pages 971-983

Many decisions rest on people’s ability to make estimates of unknown quantities. In these judgments, the aggregate estimate of a crowd of individuals is often more accurate than most individual estimates. Remarkably, similar principles apply when multiple estimates from the same person are aggregated, and a key challenge is to identify strategies that improve the accuracy of people’s aggregate estimates. Here, we present the following strategy: Combine people’s first estimate with their second estimate, made from the perspective of someone they often disagree with. In five preregistered experiments (N = 6,425 adults; N = 53,086 estimates) with populations from the United States and United Kingdom, we found that such a strategy produced accurate estimates (compared with situations in which people made a second guess or when second estimates were made from the perspective of someone they often agree with). These results suggest that disagreement, often highlighted for its negative impact, is a powerful tool in producing accurate judgments.

Caffeine's Effects on Consumer Spending
Dipayan Biswas et al.
Journal of Marketing, forthcoming

Caffeine is the world’s most popular stimulant and is consumed daily by a significant portion of the world’s population through coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks. Consumers often shop online and in physical stores immediately after or while consuming caffeine. This is further facilitated by the increasing prevalence of coffee shops and also with some retail stores having in-store coffee bars and offering complimentary caffeinated beverages. This research examines how caffeine consumption before shopping influences purchase behavior. The results of a series of experiments conducted in the field (at multiple retail stores across different countries) and in the lab show that consuming a caffeinated (vs. non-caffeinated) beverage before shopping enhances impulsivity in terms of higher number of items purchased and higher spending. This effect is stronger for “high hedonic” products and attenuated for “low hedonic” products. These findings are important for managers to understand how a seemingly unrelated behavior (i.e., caffeine consumption) in and/or around the store affects spending. From a consumer perspective, while moderate amounts of caffeine consumption have positive health benefits, there can be unintended negative financial consequences of caffeine intake on spending. Hence, consumers trying to control impulsive spending should avoid consuming caffeinated beverages before shopping.

The claim that personality is more important than intelligence in predicting important life outcomes has been greatly exaggerated
Chen Zisman & Yoav Ganzach
Intelligence, May-June 2022

We conduct a replication of Borghans, Golsteyn, Heckman and Humphries (PNAS, 2016) who suggested that personality is more important than intelligence in predicting important life outcomes. We focus on the prediction of educational (educational attainment, GPA) and occupational (pay) success, and analyze two of the databases that BGHH used (the NLSY79, n = 5594 and the MIDUS, n = 2240) as well as four additional databases, (the NLSY97, n = 2962, the WLS, n = 7646, the PIAAC, n = 3605 and the ADD health, n = 3553; all databases are American except of the PIAAC which is German). We found that for educational attainment the average R2 of intelligence was .232 whereas for personality it was .053. For GPA it was .229 and .024, respectively and for pay it was .080 and .040, respectively.

Interpersonal factors and mental well-being are associated with accuracy in judging the veracity of political news
Paul Rauwolf
Applied Cognitive Psychology, May/June 2022, Pages 581-601

More work needs to be done to understand how mental well-being and interpersonal factors are associated with biases in judging the veracity of true and false political information. Three days before the 2020 U.S. presidential election, 477 participants guessed the veracity of true and false political statements. Interpersonal factors (e.g., high prosociality and a need to belong) and mental health risk factors (e.g., high depressive symptoms and low eudaimonic well-being) were highly associated with believing false information. Further, positive well-being was associated with assessing news with a partisan bias. Next, hierarchical regression was used to better understand the combination of factors which best predict accurate judgments. To reduce the chances of overfitting, out-of-sample validation was used. About 40% of the variance for believing false information was explained by high prosociality and low well-being. In addition, well-being mediated the effects of political ideology when assessing the veracity of political information.


Preference for human or algorithmic forecasting advice does not predict if and how it is used
Mark Himmelstein & David Budescu
Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, forthcoming

Past research has found that people treat advice differently depending on its source. In many cases, people seem to prefer human advice to algorithms, but in others, there is a reversal, and people seem to prefer algorithmic advice. Across two studies, we examine the persuasiveness of, and judges' preferences for, advice from different sources when forecasting geopolitical events. We find that judges report domain-specific preferences, preferring human advice in the domain of politics and algorithmic advice in the domain of economics. In Study 2, participants report a preference for hybrid advice, that combines human and algorithmic sources, to either one on it's own regardless of domain. More importantly, we find that these preferences did not affect persuasiveness of advice from these different sources, regardless of domain. Judges were primarily sensitive to quantitative features pertaining to the similarity between their initial beliefs and the advice they were offered, such as the distance between them and the relative advisor confidence, when deciding whether to revise their initial beliefs in light of advice, rather than the source that generated the advice.

Genome-wide association study of musical beat synchronization demonstrates high polygenicity
Maria Niarchou et al.
Nature Human Behaviour, forthcoming

Moving in synchrony to the beat is a fundamental component of musicality. Here we conducted a genome-wide association study to identify common genetic variants associated with beat synchronization in 606,825 individuals. Beat synchronization exhibited a highly polygenic architecture, with 69 loci reaching genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10−8) and single-nucleotide-polymorphism-based heritability (on the liability scale) of 13%–16%. Heritability was enriched for genes expressed in brain tissues and for fetal and adult brain-specific gene regulatory elements, underscoring the role of central-nervous-system-expressed genes linked to the genetic basis of the trait. We performed validations of the self-report phenotype (through separate experiments) and of the genome-wide association study (polygenic scores for beat synchronization were associated with patients algorithmically classified as musicians in medical records of a separate biobank). Genetic correlations with breathing function, motor function, processing speed and chronotype suggest shared genetic architecture with beat synchronization and provide avenues for new phenotypic and genetic explorations.


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