We shall overcome

Kevin Lewis

October 06, 2018

When Busy is Less Indulging: Impact of Busy Mindset on Self-Control Behaviors
Jeehye Christine Kim, Monica Wadhwa & Amitava Chattopadhyay
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

An increasing number of consumers, in recent times, have reported feeling busier than ever. The current research examines how the subjective perception of busyness — which is referred to as a busy mindset in the current research — impacts consumers’ decision making. Building on different streams of research in sociology and self-view, the current research proposes that a busy mindset bolsters people’s sense of self-importance, which, in turn, can increase self-control. Thus, a busy mindset is predicted to facilitate people’s ability to exert self-control. Seven studies, including a field study, provide support for this busy mindset hypothesis across various self-control domains. Findings from these studies provide support for the underlying process related to self-importance in multiple ways, while also addressing alternative accounts related to stress and the desire for productivity. Finally, findings from the current research delineate important managerially relevant boundary conditions for the proposed busy mindset effect.

Cardiovascular and Self-Regulatory Consequences of SES-Based Social Identity Threat
Abdiel Flores et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

This work examined the effects of socioeconomic status (SES)-based social identity threat on cardiovascular indexes of challenge and threat and self-regulatory strength. Participants (N = 104) took an exam described as either diagnostic of intellectual ability (identity threat) or framed as a problem-solving task (control) while we recorded cardiovascular reactivity and assessed participants’ physical self-control. Under identity threat, lower SES students exhibited impaired performance, reduced self-control, and cardiovascular threat reactivity. In contrast, higher SES students under threat exhibited the reverse pattern — a boost in performance, no change in self-regulation, and cardiovascular challenge reactivity. Furthermore, while measures of general arousal (heart rate and pre-ejection period) were unrelated to performance, cardiovascular patterns of challenge and threat were significantly associated with performance under identity threat. Results provide evidence that SES-based stigma influences physiological and self-regulatory processes.

An uncertainty management perspective on long-run impacts of adversity: The influence of childhood socioeconomic status on risk, time, and social preferences
Dorsa Amir, Matthew Jordan & David Rand
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, November 2018, Pages 217-226

While there has been a recent increase in focus on the role of early life socioeconomic status (SES) on preferences and decision-making, there is still debate surrounding the proper theoretical framework for understanding such effects. Some have argued that early life SES can fundamentally shift time preferences per se, such that those from low SES backgrounds favor current rewards over future rewards. Others have argued that, while early life SES has lasting effects on behavior, such effects are only observable in the presence of salient cues to mortality. Here, we propose an alternative framework that centers on environmental uncertainty. In this uncertainty management framework, early life deprivation promotes the development of strategies that minimize the downside costs of uncertainty across domains. We argue that this focus on managing uncertainty results in greater risk-aversion, present-orientation, and prosociality. Furthermore, these effects need not be dependent on salient cues to mortality. Across four large samples of participants (total N = 4714), we find that childhood deprivation uniquely predicts greater risk-aversion (both incentivized and hypothetical) and greater prosociality in economic games. Childhood deprivation also predicts greater present-orientation, but not above-and beyond current SES. We further find that mortality cues are not necessary to elicit these differences. Our results support an uncertainty management perspective on the effects of childhood SES on risk, time, and social preferences.

Gender differences in preference for reward frequency versus reward magnitude in decision-making under uncertainty
Astin Cornwall, Kaileigh Byrne & Darrell Worthy
Personality and Individual Differences, December 2018, Pages 40-44

Extensive research has focused on gender differences in intertemporal choices made from description in which participants must choose from multiple options that are specified without ambiguity. However, there has been limited work examining gender differences in intertemporal choices made from experience in which the possible payoffs among choice alternatives are not initially known and can only be gained from experience. Other work suggests that females attend more to reward frequency, whereas males attend more to reward magnitude. However, the tasks used in this research have been complex and did not examine intertemporal decision-making. To specifically test whether females are more sensitive to reward frequency and males are more sensitive to reward magnitude on intertemporal decisions made from experience, we designed a simple choice task in which participants pressed a response button at a time of their own choosing on each of many trials. Faster responses led to smaller, but more frequent rewards, whereas slower responses led to larger, but less frequently given rewards. As predicted, females tended to respond quicker for more certain, smaller rewards than males, supporting our prediction that women attend more to reward frequency whereas men attend more to reward magnitude.

Creativity Under Fire: The Effects of Competition on Creative Production
Daniel Gross
NBER Working Paper, September 2018

Though fundamental to innovation and essential to many industries and occupations, individual creativity has received limited attention as an economic behavior and has historically proven difficult to study. This paper studies the incentive effects of competition on individuals' creative production. Using a sample of commercial logo design competitions, and a novel, content-based measure of originality, I find that intensifying competition induces agents to produce original, untested ideas over tweaking their earlier work, but heavy competition drives them to stop investing altogether. The results yield lessons for the management of creative workers and for the implementation of competitive procurement mechanisms for innovation.

The effect of personalised weight feedback on weight loss and health behaviours: Evidence from a regression discontinuity design
Will Cook
Health Economics, forthcoming

Using a regression‐discontinuity approach on a U.K. longitudinal dataset, this research analyses whether personalised weight feedback resulted in individuals losing weight over a period of between 2 and 7 years. The analysis presented here finds that being told one was “overweight” had, on average, no effect on subsequent weight loss; however, being told one was “very overweight” resulted in individuals losing, on average, approximately 1% of their bodyweight. The effect of feedback was found to be strongly moderated by household income, with those in higher income households accounting for seemingly all of the estimated effect due, in part, to increased physical activity. These findings suggest that the provision of weight feedback may be a cost‐effective way to reduce obesity in adults. They do however also highlight that the differential response to the provision of health information may be a driver of health inequalities and that the provision of feedback may bias longitudinal health studies.

Expanding minds: Growth mindsets of self-regulation and the influences on effort and perseverance
Alissa Mrazek et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, November 2018, Pages 164-180

Given that countless studies have documented the wide-ranging benefits of self-regulation, determining if and how self-regulation can be improved is an important scientific and societal priority. Existing theories suggest that the deterioration of self-regulation is partially shaped by perceptions of effort. Therefore, one promising way to sustain self-regulation may be to cultivate a growth mindset, which has been shown to affect behavior in part by altering effort attributions. Although growth mindsets — the belief that a given trait can be improved through practice — have been studied extensively, particularly in the domain of intelligence, little research has examined the effects of promoting a growth mindset specifically about self-regulation. Here five studies test how promoting a growth mindset of self-regulation impacts actual self-regulation in daily life and the laboratory. In Study 1, relative to an active control that received relationship training, an intensive self-regulation training program emphasizing a growth mindset led participants to persevere longer on impossible anagrams, which was partially mediated by altering attributions of mental fatigue. Relatively, the self-regulation training also led participants to notice more opportunities for self-control in daily life and more successfully resist everyday temptations. The subsequent four studies isolated and abbreviated the growth mindset manipulation, demonstrated improved persistence and decreased effort avoidance, and attempted to further examine the critical mediators. Collectively, results indicate that a growth mindset of self-regulation can change attributions and allocation of effort in meaningful ways that may affect the willingness to attempt challenging tasks and the perseverance required to complete them.


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