The Good Fight

Kevin Lewis

February 05, 2010

Firearms and fisticuffs: Region, race, and adversary effects on homicide and assault

Richard Felson & Paul-Philippe Pare
Social Science Research, March 2010, Pages 272-284

Analyses of the National Crime Victimization Survey and Supplemental Homicide Reports show that southern whites are much more likely than northern whites to be victims of gun homicides and assaults, but not other homicides and assaults. While blacks are more likely than whites to be victims of gun assaults (regardless of region), they have lower risks of assault victimization by unarmed offenders. The patterns are inconsistent with the subculture of violence thesis. In addition, incident analyses reveal that patterns of weapon use primarily reflect the race of the victim not the offender. Our results point to the importance of adversary effects: Offenders avoid assaulting blacks and southern whites unless they have guns because members of these groups are perceived as a greater threat. We suggest that the prevalence of armed assault in a community may lower the likelihood of unarmed assaults, and that honor culture explanations may be salvageable.


Victim entitlement to behave selfishly

Emily Zitek, Alexander Jordan, Benoît Monin & Frederick Leach
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, February 2010, Pages 245-255

Three experiments demonstrated that feeling wronged leads to a sense of entitlement and to selfish behavior. In Experiment 1, participants instructed to recall a time when their lives were unfair were more likely to refuse to help the experimenter with a supplementary task than were participants who recalled a time when they were bored. In Experiment 2, the same manipulation increased intentions to engage in a number of selfish behaviors, and this effect was mediated by self-reported entitlement to obtain positive (and avoid negative) outcomes. In Experiment 3, participants who lost at a computer game for an unfair reason (a glitch in the program) requested a more selfish money allocation for a future task than did participants who lost the game for a fair reason, and this effect was again mediated by entitlement.


Correlations between estimates of state IQ and FBI crime statistics

Jared Bartels, Joseph Ryan, Lynn Urban & Laura Glass
Personality and Individual Differences, forthcoming

Previous research suggests that crime is negatively associated with IQ at the individual level and the aggregate state level. The purpose of the present study was to further explore the relationship between state IQ estimates and various categories of violent and property crimes. State demographic information including the gross state product, pupil/teacher ratio, and percent Black, Asian, and Hispanic were included in the correlational analyses. State IQ was significantly and negatively correlated with the violent crimes of murder, aggravated assault and robbery as well as the property crimes of motor vehicle theft, theft and burglary. Additionally, regression analyses were conducted for each crime significantly related to state IQ, controlling for significant state demographic variables. In general, results suggest that the prevalence of both violent and property crimes is associated with lower state IQs.


Changes in Suicide Rates by Hanging and/or Suffocation and Firearms Among Young Persons Aged 10-24 Years in the United States: 1992-2006

Jeffrey Bridge, Joel Greenhouse, Arielle Sheftall, Anthony Fabio, John Campo & Kelly Kelleher
Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

We examined changes in suicide rates among 10-24-year-olds in the United States from 1992 to 2006. The overall suicide rate and the rate by firearms, poisoning, and other methods declined markedly, whereas the hanging/suffocation rate increased significantly from 1992 to 2006. This increase occurred across every major demographic subgroup, but was most dramatic for females.


Charlemagne was very tall; but not robust

Frank Rühli, Bernhard Blümich & Maciej Henneberg
Economics & Human Biology, forthcoming

The left tibia of Charlemagne, the Medieval "Father of Europe" has been X-rayed and CT scanned to determine his still highly debated stature. We found the healthy bone to be long (430 mm) but rather not robust (total mid-shaft cross sectional area 473 mm2, cortical area 352 mm2). Reconstructed stature of 1.84 m falls at about 99% of Medieval heights, which would be ca. 1.95 m in present-day Europe. Thus, tall stature indeed could have contributed to the success of "Charles the Great" as a king emperor and soldier.


Propaganda and Conflict: Theory and Evidence From the Rwandan Genocide

David Yanagizawa
Stockholm University Working Paper, November 2009

This paper investigates the impact of propaganda on participation in violent conflict. I examine the effects of the infamous "hate radio" station Radio RTLM that called for the extermination of the Tutsi ethnic minority population before and during the 1994 Rwanda Genocide. I develop a model of participation in ethnic violence where radio broadcasts a noisy public signal about the value of violence. I then test the model's predictions using a nation-wide village-level dataset on radio coverage and prosecutions for genocide violence. To identify causal effects, I exploit arguably exogenous variation in radio coverage generated by hills in the line-of-sight between radio transmitters and villages. Consistent with the model under strategic complements in violence, I find that Radio RTLM increased participation in violence, that the effects were decreasing in ethnic polarization, highly non-linear in radio coverage, and decreasing in literacy rates. Finally, the estimated effects are substantial. Complete village radio coverage increased violence by 65 to 77 percent, and a simple counter-factual calculation suggests that approximately 9 percent of the genocide, corresponding to at least 45,000 Tutsi deaths, can be explained by the radio station.


Homicide Rates in a Cross-Section of Countries: Evidence and Interpretations

Julio Cole & Andrés Marroquín Gramajo
Population and Development Review, December 2009, Pages 749-776

This study uses a regression analysis to explore the cross-country variation in homicide rates for a large sample of countries. It starts by identifying seven significant regional variables, to which traditional socioeconomic, cultural, and institutional variables are added and tested. The importance of institutions, culture, and other factors affecting homicide rates is discussed. One unexpected finding is a curious relationship between the level of education and homicide rates: while an increase in male education tends to reduce homicide rates, an increase in female education tends to increase homicides. Several possible interpretations for this phenomenon are proposed. The study points to relatively unexplored areas of research in order to better understand homicide variation around the world.


Income Inequality and School Bullying: Multilevel Study of Adolescents in 37 Countries

Frank Elgar, Wendy Craig, William Boyce, Antony Morgan & Rachel Vella-Zarb
Journal of Adolescent Health, October 2009, Pages 351-359

Purpose: To examine the association between income inequality and school bullying in an international sample of preadolescents and to test for mediation of this association by the availability of social support from families, peers, and schools.

Methods: The study used economic data from the 2006 United Nations Development Program Human Development Report and survey data from the 2005/2006 Health Behavior in School-aged Children (HBSC) study which included 66,910 11-year-olds in 37 countries. Ecological correlations tested associations between income inequality and bullying among countries. Multilevel linear and ordinal regression analyses tested the effects of income inequality on perceived social support and bullying others at school.

Results: Income inequality was associated with rates of bullying among the 37 countries (r = .62). Multilevel analyses indicated that each standard deviation increase in income inequality corresponded with more frequent bullying by males (odds ratio = 1.17) and females (odds ratio = 1.24), less family support and school support but more peer support. Social support from families and schools was associated with less bullying after differences in wealth were taken into account; however, social support did not account for the association between income inequality and bullying.

Conclusions: Countries with high income inequality have more school bullying among preadolescents than countries with low income inequality. Further study is needed to understand the mechanisms that account for this association. Findings suggest that adolescents in areas of wide income inequality-not only those in deprived schools and neighborhoods- should be a focus of antibullying campaigns.


"Hot-Headed" Is More Than an Expression: The Embodied Representation of Anger in Terms of Heat

Benjamin Wilkowski, Brian Meier, Michael Robinson, Margaret Carter & Roger Feltman
Emotion, August 2009, Pages 464-477

Anger is frequently referred to in terms of heat-related metaphors (e.g., hot-headed). The metaphoric representation perspective contends that such metaphors are not simply a poetic means of expressing anger but actually reflect the manner in which the concept of anger is cognitively represented. Drawing upon this perspective, the present studies examined the idea that the cognitive representation of anger is systematically related to the cognitive representation of heat. A total of 7 studies, involving 438 participants, provided support for this view. Visual depictions of heat facilitated the use of anger-related conceptual knowledge, and this occurred in tasks involving lexical stimuli as well as facial expressions. Furthermore, priming anger-related thoughts led participants to judge unfamiliar cities and the actual room temperature as hotter in nature. The results are discussed in terms of their implications for embodied views of emotion concepts and their potential social consequences.


Nonlethal Self-Defense, (Almost Entirely) Nonlethal Weapons, and the Rights to Keep and Bear Arms and Defend Life

Eugene Volokh
Stanford Law Review, December 2009, Pages 199-255

"Self-defense is not just a criminal law defense to charges of homicide or assault. It is also a moral and policy principle that protects people's ability to possess the tools needed for effective self-defense. It is an expressly guaranteed constitutional right, at least under many state constitutions that secure a right to defend life. And it is implicitly protected by the right to keep and bear arms, which secures the ability to possess weapons useful for self-defense. There are powerful arguments for limiting deadly defensive tools, especially firearms, given the grave harms that gun misuse routinely causes. I don't generally endorse such arguments, partly because I think gun bans will do little to stop the misuse but much to stop lawful defensive use. But I see the force of those arguments. Yet the crime control arguments for gun bans do not apply with anywhere near the same force to stun guns and to irritant sprays. And the self-defense arguments against gun bans do apply to such nondeadly weapons. On balance, people's right to defend themselves nonlethally with stun guns ought to be protected - both as a matter of sound policy and as a matter of our nation's and states' Constitutions."


Battlemind Debriefing and Battlemind Training as Early Interventions With Soldiers Returning From Iraq: Randomization by Platoon

Amy Adler, Paul Bliese, Dennis McGurk, Charles Hoge & Carl Andrew Castro
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, October 2009, Pages 928-940

Researchers have found that there is an increase in mental heath problems as a result of military-related traumatic events, and such problems increase in the months following return from combat. Nevertheless, researchers have not assessed the impact of early intervention efforts with this at-risk population. In the present study, the authors compared different early interventions with 2,297 U.S. soldiers following a year-long deployment to Iraq. Platoons were randomly assigned to standard postdeployment stress education, Battlemind debriefing, and small and large group Battlemind training. Results from a 4-month follow-up with 1,060 participants showed those with high levels of combat exposure who received Battlemind debriefing reported fewer posttraumatic stress symptoms, depression symptoms, and sleep problems than those in stress education. Small group Battlemind training participants with high combat exposure reported fewer posttraumatic stress symptoms and sleep problems than stress education participants. Compared to stress education participants, large group Battlemind training participants with high combat exposure reported fewer posttraumatic stress symptoms and lower levels of stigma and, regardless of combat exposure, reported fewer depression symptoms. Findings demonstrate that brief early interventions have the potential to be effective with at-risk occupational groups.


Lower Lateral Orbitofrontal Cortex Density Associated With More Frequent Exposure to Television and Movie Violence in Male Adolescents

Maren Strenziok, Frank Krueger, Sarah Pulaski, Anne Openshaw, Giovanna Zamboni, Elke van der Meer & Jordan Grafman
Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

The relationship between cortical grey matter density and media violence exposure in healthy male adolescents was investigated using voxel-based morphometry and the Childrens' Report of Exposure to Violence. Adolescents with more frequent exposure have lower left lateral orbitofrontal cortex density - a possible risk factor for altered socioemotional functioning.


Politeness and psychological distance: A construal level perspective

Elena Stephan, Nira Liberman & Yaacov Trope
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, February 2010, Pages 268-280

According to politeness theory (P. Brown & S. Levinson, 1987), politeness serves to both reflect and regulate social distance. On the basis of this notion and on construal level theory (N. Liberman & Y. Trope, 2008; N. Liberman, Y. Trope, & E. Stephan, 2007), it was predicted that politeness would be related to abstract construal, temporal distance, and spatial distance. Eight studies supported this prediction. Politeness increased when the addressees were construed abstractly (Study 1), were temporally distant (Studies 2, 3), and were spatially distant (Study 4). It was also found that increasing politeness produced abstract construals (Study 5), greater temporal distance (Study 6), and greater spatial distance (Study 7, 8). These findings shed light on the way politeness operates in different cultures and is conveyed in different languages, and they support the idea that dimensions of psychological distance are interrelated.

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