Showing posts with label human nature. Show all posts
Showing posts with label human nature. Show all posts

Monday, August 7, 2017

Is the Lone Scientist an American Dream? Perceived Communal Opportunities in STEM Offer a Pathway to Closing U.S.–Asia Gaps in Interest and Positivity

Is the Lone Scientist an American Dream? Perceived Communal Opportunities in STEM Offer a Pathway to Closing U.S.–Asia Gaps in Interest and Positivity. Elizabeth Brown et al. Social Psychological and Personality Science, http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1948550617703173

Abstract: The United States lags behind many Asian countries in engagement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). An unexplored factor in these country-level differences may be U.S.–Asia gaps in perceptions of the goal opportunities provided by STEM. Across four studies, U.S. students perceived fewer communal opportunities (working with/helping/relationships with others) in STEM than Asian students; this differential perception contributed to U.S.–Asia gaps in STEM interest. Perceptions of communal opportunities in STEM did not follow from a general orientation to perceive that all careers provided communal opportunities but from communal engagement in STEM. Perceptions about communal opportunities in STEM predicted STEM interest, and communal experience in STEM predicted STEM interest beyond quantity of STEM exposure. Experimentally highlighting the perceived communal opportunities in science closed the cultural gap in positivity toward a scientist career (Study 5). Perceptions of communal opportunities in STEM provide a new vantage point to improve U.S. engagement in STEM.

---
at "the private California Institute of Technology, which by choice does not consider race as a factor, more than 40% of students were Asian-American in 2013, up from 26% in 1993"†)

"the share at University of California campuses at Berkeley and Los Angeles tops 30%."†

"In 1993 about 20% of Harvard students were Asian-American [...] now it is 22% Asian-American," approx. the same "at Princeton, Yale and other Ivy League schools."†



†  What Is Harvard Hiding? Wall Street Journal Editorial, Aug. 6, 2017. https://www.wsj.com/articles/what-is-harvard-hiding-1501888626

‡  From official data: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_racial_and_ethnic_demographics_of_the_United_States#Asian_and_Pacific_Islander_.28including_of_Hispanic_origin.29: from approx 11 million people in 2000 to approx 20 million en 2015.

Non-official: www-personal.umich.edu/~yuxie/Research/brief/Tables.pdf > year 1990: 6 908 638; year 2000: 11 070 913.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Chinese Threat to Australian Openness. By Merriden Varrall

A Chinese Threat to Australian Openness. By Merriden Varrall
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/31/opinion/australia-chinese-students.html
The New York Times, July 31, 2017

SYDNEY, Australia — Australians are increasingly concerned about China’s growing influence in the country. Chinese money is being funneled to politicians. Beijing-run media outlets buy ads in Australian newspapers to promote the Communist Party view on local and regional issues. Chinese companies are buying Australian farms and natural resources.

The push extends to Australia’s universities. Chinese agents are said to monitor Chinese students and report on those who fail to toe the Communist Party line. And in another troubling trend, many of the 150,000 visiting Chinese students are importing a pro-Beijing approach to the classroom that is stifling debate and openness.

In 2008-9 I taught international relations to undergraduates at a Chinese university in Beijing, giving me a window into Chinese students’ attitudes and behavior. I was struck by the tendency for students to align themselves with the government view.

I was not given any guidance or warnings about the topics I could cover in the classroom. But throughout the year, I was offered hints that my approach to teaching was inappropriate. Those warnings came not only from the administration but from the students themselves.

On several occasions, students suggested I use a different style of teaching. They found critical analysis and picking apart expert opinion uncomfortable. This was particularly true for readings and class discussions that could be construed as critical of China.

Most students, for example, would reject anything that suggested China had not always been peaceful. The majority of students would react angrily to any reading material implying that Japan was not an inherently aggressive and expansionist country.

Some students told me in private that they were afraid to express their views in class. They feared that their peers would report on them and that they would receive a black mark on their record. The minority of students who showed interest in open discussion were shut down by classmates who parroted Beijing’s talking points.

In one session, students gave a presentation that, unsurprisingly, painted the Japanese in a negative light. One of their classmates wondered aloud whether Chinese people still needed to hate Japan. Another suggested that China also publishes textbooks with self-serving interpretations of history, as Japan does. Outrage erupted. One student furiously accused the two of “not loving China enough.”

At my midyear review, I was told firmly by my department leadership that my approach of “trying to teach through rumor and hearsay” was unsuitable. When I refused to change my methods, I was told that I would not receive my bonus and that my contract would not be renewed.

Chinese students are taking this approach into the Australian classroom.

A recent ABC-Fairfax report gave the example of Lupin Lu, head of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association chapter at the University of Canberra. Ms. Lu said she would not hesitate to inform officials at the Chinese Embassy if she heard of Chinese students organizing, for example, protests against Beijing.

Even here in Australia, Chinese students have said they fear speaking up in class because they worry their compatriots will report them to embassy authorities. Some students ask to be placed in tutorial groups without other Chinese citizens so they can speak openly.

Sally Sargeson, an associate professor at the Australian National University, said to Forbes magazine that every Chinese student she asked about this problem “said they know they are being monitored and adjust their speech so they will not get into trouble.”

When Chinese students self-censor or monitor and report on their peers, it is not necessarily because the Chinese state is bearing down on them. Rather, many Chinese students believe that speaking out against the officially approved view, on any topic, is inappropriate. The anthropologist Erika Evasdottir describes this as “self-directed control.” Monitoring and reporting on peers who diverge from the party line is seen as the right thing to do.

Universities have not adequately addressed this threat to debate and openness. Officials may be reluctant to take action because overseas students bring a lot of money to underfunded Australian universities.

Because many Chinese students have internalized the need to align with official views, maintaining Australia’s standards for free and open debate will remain a daunting challenge. Australian universities could start by facing up to the problem.

Merriden Varrall is the director of the East Asia Program at the Lowy Institute.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Nervousness while in an unfamiliar context, perceived as uppity or classy

David Brooks has a point – upper class kids have invisible cultural advantages. By Henry Farrell. The Washington Post, Jul 11, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2015/09/23/why-are-working-class-kids-less-likely-to-get-elite-jobs-they-study-too-hard-at-college

A few years ago, an older working-class woman had done a special favor for me, and I wanted to show her my gratitude. I took her out to a restaurant that wasn’t fancy, exactly, but it was a definite cut above Chili’s. To me, this was my way of showing her my gratitude: to take her to a place that was out of the ordinary. At the table, I was distressed to see her obviously struggling to enjoy herself. She appeared anxious and uncomfortable, and I couldn’t figure out why.

Later, her daughter told me that as grateful as her mother was for the invitation, she was a nervous wreck at the restaurant. Her mom saw unfamiliar words on the menu, and felt stupid. And she thought everybody in the restaurant was surely looking at her, and seeing that she didn’t belong.

Seeding the S-Curve? The Role of Early Adopters in Diffusion

Seeding the S-Curve? The Role of Early Adopters in Diffusion. Christian Catalini & Catherine Tucker. MIT Working Paper, August 2016, http://www.imapsource.org/doi/abs/10.4071/2016DPC-TA11

In October 2014, all 4,494 undergraduates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were given access to Bitcoin, a decentralized digital currency. As a unique feature of the experiment, students who would generally adopt first were placed in a situation where many of their peers received access to the technology before them, and they then had to decide whether to continue to invest in this digital currency or exit. Our results suggest that when natural early adopters are delayed relative to their peers, they are more likely to reject the technology. We present further evidence that this appears to be driven by identity, in that the effect occurs in situations where natural early adopters' delay relative to others is most visible, and in settings where the natural early adopters would have been somewhat unique in their tech-savvy status. We then show not only that natural early adopters are more likely to reject the technology if they are delayed, but that this rejection generates spillovers on adoption by their peers who are not natural early adopters. This suggests that small changes in the initial availability of a technology have a lasting effect on its potential: Seeding a technology while ignoring early adopters' needs for distinctiveness is counterproductive.

John Roberts, Chief Judge, US Supreme Court. Commencement speech at his son's school

John Roberts, Chief Judge, US Supreme Court. Commencement speech at his son's school. Jun 03, 2017, http://time.com/4845150/chief-justice-john-roberts-commencement-speech-transcript/

Now the commencement speakers will typically also wish you good luck and extend good wishes to you. I will not do that, and I’ll tell you why. From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then, your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion.

Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.

How much compensation is too much? An investigation of the effectiveness of financial overcompensation as a means to enhance customer loyalty

How much compensation is too much? An investigation of the effectiveness of financial overcompensation as a means to enhance customer loyalty. By Tessa Haesevoets et al.
Judgment and Decision Making, March 2017, Pages 183–197
http://journal.sjdm.org/16/16929/jdm16929.pdf

Abstract: The present paper examines the effectiveness of financial overcompensation as a means to enhance customer loyalty after a product failure. Overcompensation implies that customers are entitled to a refund that is larger than the purchase price. It is, however, still unclear whether large overcompensations entail saturation effects, or alternatively, result in an actual drop in customer loyalty. We predicted that the overcompensation-loyalty relationship is generally characterized by an inverted U-shaped function. In line with this prediction, the results of four studies showed that mild overcompensations had, on average, a positive effect on customer loyalty beyond equal compensation, but only up to compensation levels of approximately 150% of the purchase price of faulty products. Beyond this level, the effectiveness of overcompensation diminished, eventually leading to a general drop in customer loyalty. Despite this overall pattern, two studies revealed robust individual differences in how customers react to increasing overcompensation. A majority of customers increased their loyalty when the overcompensation enlarged, but the curve flattened out in the high range. However, there was also a smaller portion of customers who reacted negatively to every form of overcompensation. A practical implication of these findings, therefore, is that companies should not offer compensations that are greater than 150% of the initial price, as these do not contribute to greater loyalty in any category of customers.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Is China building too many airports?

Is China building too many airports? By Fran Wang. Caixin, Jun 23, 2017. http://www.caixinglobal.com/2017-06-23/101105028.html. Extract.

Over the next three years, local authorities in China are planning to build more than 900 airports for general aviation—the segment of the industry that includes crop dusting and tourism. The figure is nearly double the central government’s goal of “more than 500” over the period.

A news report has warned that’s just too many airports.

In May 2016, the State Council, China’s cabinet, announced that the country wanted to construct more than 500 general aviation airports to boost the size of the industry to over 1 trillion yuan (U.S.$146 billion).

General aviation covers flights on helicopters and light aircraft used in sectors such as tourism, agriculture, medical care, and disaster relief.

All provincial-level governments except Shanghai, Tibet, and the northeastern province of Jilin have since published their own plans for these airports, and their goal is far more ambitious than the central government’s. Together, they plan to build 934 general aviation airports, according to the 21st Century Business Herald.

The number put forward by each region ranges from seven to 200. The three places that intend to build the most general aviation airports are Guangxi in southern China, Heilongjiang in the northeast, and Xinjiang in the northwest—all remote and less developed areas, the newspaper said.

Despite the government excesses managing the public treasure*, corruption in civil engineering works†, etc.‡, the citizen is quite comfortable ¶ with these expenditures (while the costs are not recouped visibly from him). It seems that if we see more tower buildings, and are taller, we assume we are progressing, there is material advance, and that most are better for this. My hypothesis is that what feeds the population's approval are patriotism§ (very powerful in Han China) and redistributionism֍.




From Chris Buckley's China’s New Bridges: Rising High, but Buried in Debt, The New York Times, Jun 10, 2017. Available at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/10/world/asia/china-bridges-infrastructure.html (impressive imagery).

*    “Infrastructure is a double-edged sword,” said Atif Ansar, a management professor at the University of Oxford who has studied China’s infrastructure spending. “It’s good for the economy, but too much of this is pernicious. ‘Build it and they will come’ is a dictum that doesn’t work, especially in China, where there’s so much built already.”

A study that Mr. Ansar helped write said fewer than a third of the 65 Chinese highway and rail projects he examined were “genuinely economically productive,” while the rest contributed more to debt than to transportation needs.

†  In the past six years, anticorruption inquiries have toppled more than 27 Hunan transportation officials.

‡, §   “The amount of high bridge construction in China is just insane,” said Eric Sakowski, an American bridge enthusiast who runs a website on the world’s highest bridges. “China’s opening, say, 50 high bridges a year, and the whole of the rest of the world combined might be opening 10.”

    Of the world’s 100 highest bridges, 81 are in China, including some unfinished ones, according to Mr. Sakowski’s data. (The Chishi Bridge ranks 162nd.)

    China also has the world’s longest bridge, the 102-mile Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge, a high-speed rail viaduct running parallel to the Yangtze River, and is nearing completion of the world’s longest sea bridge, a 14-mile cable-stay bridge skimming across the Pearl River Delta, part of a 22-mile bridge and tunnel crossing that connects Hong Kong and Macau with mainland China.

    The country’s expressway growth has been compared to that of the United States in the 1950s, when the Interstate System of highways got underway, but China is building at a remarkable clip. In 2016 alone, China added 26,100 bridges on roads, including 363 “extra large” ones with an average length of about a mile, government figures show.

֍    “It’s very important to improve transport and other infrastructure so that impoverished regions can escape poverty and prosper,” President Xi Jinping said while visiting the spectacular, recently opened Aizhai Bridge in Hunan in 2013. “We must do more of this and keep supporting it.”

¶    Indeed, the new roads and railways have proved popular.


§  Who Will Fight? The All-Volunteer Army after 9/11. By Susan Payne Carter, Alexander Smith & Carl Wojtaszek. American Economic Review, May 2017, Pages 415-419, https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/aer.p20171082.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Self-protection promotes altruism

Self-protection promotes altruism, by Eugene Chan
Evolution and Human Behavior, http://www.ehbonline.org/article/S1090-5138(16)30372-5/fulltext

Highlights:

    •Self-protection tendencies allowed our human ancestors to survive and thrive.
    •One primary strategy to protect oneself is to affiliate as there is “safety in numbers”.
    •One way to pursue this strategy would being more altruistic to others.
    •Thus, self-protection increases altruism, but only when there is the sufficient possibility of it being reciprocated.

Abstract: Self-protection tendencies allowed our human ancestors to survive and thrive. In three experiments, we find that individuals who have a salient self-protection motive are more altruistic to others, such as by helping them out or offering them more money in the dictator game paradigm. Self-protecting individuals desire to “bind together” as there is “safety in numbers”, and being altruistic to others should be one (but not the only) way to achieve this goal. Consistent with this reasoning, we find across three behavioral experiments using both non-monetary (Experiment 1) and monetary altruistic contexts (Experiments 2–3) that self-protecting individuals are more altruistic when the altruism is not anonymous (Experiment 1) and when they have the reasonable expectation of future interaction with the recipient (Experiment 2), both of which are situations that should increase affiliation. The effect attenuates when altruism does not help self-protecting individuals, such as when money is donated to impersonal organizations rather than individuals (Experiment 3). We finally discuss the theoretical contributions as well as limitations of our work.

Natural Disasters and Political Engagement: Evidence from the 2010–11 Pakistani Floods

Natural Disasters and Political Engagement: Evidence from the 2010–11 Pakistani Floods. By Christine Fair et al.
Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Spring 2017, Pages 99-141. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2978047

Abstract: How natural disasters affect politics in developing countries is an important question, given the fragility of fledgling democratic institutions in some of these countries as well as likely increased exposure to natural disasters over time due to climate change. Research in sociology and psychology suggests traumatic events can inspire pro-social behavior and therefore might increase political engagement. Research in political science argues that economic resources are critical for political engagement and thus the economic dislocation from disasters may dampen participation. We argue that when the government and civil society response effectively blunts a disaster's economic impacts, then political engagement may increase as citizens learn about government capacity. Using diverse data from the massive 2010–11 Pakistan floods, we find that Pakistanis in highly flood-affected areas turned out to vote at substantially higher rates three years later than those less exposed. We also provide speculative evidence on the mechanism. The increase in turnout was higher in areas with lower ex ante flood risk, which is consistent with a learning process. These results suggest that natural disasters may not necessarily undermine civil society in emerging developing democracies.

Information provision and consumer behavior: A natural experiment in billing frequency.

Information provision and consumer behavior: A natural experiment in billing frequency. By Casey Wichman
Journal of Public Economics, August 2017, Pages 13–33
http://www.rff.org/research/publications/information-provision-and-consumer-behavior-natural-experiment-billing

Abstract: In this study, I estimate a causal effect of increased billing frequency on consumer behavior. I exploit a natural experiment in which residential water customers switched exogenously from bimonthly to monthly billing. Customers increase consumption by 3.5–5 percent in response to more frequent information. This result is reconciled in models of price and quantity uncertainty, where increases in billing frequency reduce the distortion in consumer perceptions. Using treatment effects as sufficient statistics, I calculate consumer welfare gains equivalent to 0.5–1 percent of annual water expenditures. Heterogeneous treatment effects suggest increases in outdoor water use.

Sexual regret in US and Norway: Effects of culture and individual differences in religiosity and mating strategy

Sexual regret in US and Norway: Effects of culture and individual differences in religiosity and mating strategy. By Mons Bendixen et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, 1 October 2017, Pages 246–251, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886917303148

Highlights

•    Men were significantly less likely to regret having had casual sex than women were.
•    Men were significantly more likely to regret passing up casual sex than women were.
•    More religious regretted having had casual sex more and passing up casual sex less.
•    Unrestricted regretted having had casual sex less and passing up casual sex more.
•    Overall regret and patterns of sex differences not different between nations

Abstract: Sexual regret was investigated across two disparate cultures: Norway (N = 853), a highly secular and sexually liberal culture, and the United States (N = 466), a more religious and more sexually conservative culture. Sex differences, individual differences in preferred mating strategy, religiosity, and cultural differences in sexual regret were analyzed. Men were significantly less likely to regret having had casual sex than women and were significantly more likely to regret passing up casual sexual opportunities than women. Participants who were more religious regretted having had casual sex more and regretted passing up casual sex less. Sexually unrestricted participants were less likely to regret having had casual sex and were more likely to regret passing up casual sex. Finally, North Americans and Norwegians did not differ significantly in overall amount of sexual regret nor in patterns of sex differences in sexual regret. Discussion focuses the robustness of sex differences across cultures, the importance of explaining individual differences within cultures, and on future directions for cross-cultural research.

Keywords: Sexual regret; Religiosity; Sociosexual orientation; Culture; Sexual strategies; One night stands

Implications of maternity leave choice for perceptions of working mothers

Should I stay or should I go? Implications of maternity leave choice for perceptions of working mothers. By Thekla Morgenroth & Madeline Heilman
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2017, Pages 53–56. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022103116307788

Highlights

•    We investigate how women's decisions regarding maternity leave affects their evaluation.
•    Women who choose to take maternity leave are seen as less competent at work and less worthy of organizational rewards.
•    Women who choose not to take maternity leave are seen as worse parents and less desirable partners.
•    Perceptions of whether women prioritize family or work play an important role in these processes.

Abstract: Working mothers often find themselves in a difficult situation when trying to balance work and family responsibilities and to manage expectations about their work and parental effectiveness. Family-friendly policies such as maternity leave have been introduced to address this issue. But how are women who then make the decision to go or not go on maternity leave evaluated? We presented 296 employed participants with information about a woman who made the decision to take maternity leave or not, or about a control target for whom this decision was not relevant, and asked them to evaluate her both in the work and the family domain. We found that both decisions had negative consequences, albeit in different domains. While the woman taking maternity leave was evaluated more negatively in the work domain, the woman deciding against maternity leave was evaluated more negatively in the family domain. These evaluations were mediated by perceptions of work/family commitment priorities. We conclude that while it is important to introduce policies that enable parents to reconcile family and work demands, decisions about whether to take advantage of these policies can have unintended consequences – consequences that can complicate women's efforts to balance work and childcare responsibilities.

Women and African Americans are less influential when they express anger during group decision making

Women and African Americans are less influential when they express anger during group decision making. By Jessica Salerno, Liana Peter-Hagene & Alexander Jay
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1368430217702967?journalCode=gpia

Abstract: Expressing anger can signal that someone is certain and competent, thereby increasing their social influence — but does this strategy work for everyone? After assessing gender- and race-based emotion stereotypes (Study 1), we assessed the effect of expressing anger on social influence during group decision making as a function of gender (Studies 2–3) and race (Study 3). Participants took part in a computerized mock jury decision-making task, during which they read scripted comments ostensibly from other jurors. A “holdout” juror always disagreed with the participant and four other confederate group members. We predicted that the contextual factor of who expressed emotion would trump what was expressed in determining whether anger is a useful persuasion strategy. People perceived all holdouts expressing anger as more emotional than holdouts who expressed identical arguments without anger. Yet holdouts who expressed anger (versus no anger) were less effective and influential when they were female (but not male, Study 2) or Black (but not White, Study 3) — despite having expressed identical arguments and anger. Although anger expression made participants perceive the holdouts as more emotional regardless of race and gender, being perceived as more emotional was selectively used to discredit women and African Americans. These diverging consequences of anger expression have implications for societally important group decisions, including life-and-death decisions made by juries.

Physical cleansing changes goal priming effects

Embodiment as procedures: Physical cleansing changes goal priming effects. B Ping Dong and Spike W. S. Lee (Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 2017[Apr], Vol 146[4], 592-605).
http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=buy.optionToBuy&id=2017-23194-001

Physical cleansing reduces the influence of numerous psychological experiences, such as guilt from immoral behavior, dissonance from free choice, and good/bad luck from winning/losing. How do these domain-general effects occur? We propose an integrative account of cleansing as an embodied procedure of psychological separation. By separating physical traces from a physical target object (e.g., detaching dirt from hands), cleansing serves as the embodied grounding for the separation of psychological traces from a psychological target object (e.g., dissociating prior experience from the present self). This account predicts that cleansing reduces the accessibility of psychological traces and their consequences for judgments and behaviors. Testing these in the context of goal priming, we find that wiping one’s hands (vs. not) decreases the mental accessibility (Experiment 1), behavioral expression (Experiment 2), and judged importance (Experiments 3–4) of previously primed goals (e.g., achievement, saving, fitness). But if a goal is primed after cleansing, its importance gets amplified instead (Experiment 3). Based on the logic of moderation-of-process, an alternative manipulation that psychologically separates a primed goal from the present self produces the same effects, but critically, the effects vanish once people wipe their hands clean (Experiment 4), consistent with the notion that cleansing functions as an embodied procedure of psychological separation. These findings have implications for the flexibility of goal pursuit. More broadly, our procedural perspective generates novel predictions about the scope and mechanisms of cleansing effects and may help integrate embodied and related phenomena.

Not taking responsibility: Equity trumps efficiency in allocation decisions

Not taking responsibility: Equity trumps efficiency in allocation decisions. By  Gordon-Hecker, Tom; Rosensaft-Eshel, Daniela; Pittarello, Andrea; Shalvi, Shaul; Bereby-Meyer, Yoella
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Vol 146(6), Jun 2017, 771-775. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000273

Abstract: When allocating resources, equity and efficiency may conflict. When resources are scarce and cannot be distributed equally, one may choose to destroy resources and reduce societal welfare to maintain equity among its members. We examined whether people are averse to inequitable outcomes per se or to being responsible for deciding how inequity should be implemented. Three scenario-based experiments and one incentivized experiment revealed that participants are inequity responsibility averse: when asked to decide which of the 2 equally deserving individuals should receive a reward, they rather discarded the reward than choosing who will get it. This tendency diminished significantly when participants had the possibility to use a random device to allocate the reward. The finding suggests that it is more difficult to be responsible for the way inequity is implemented than to create inequity per se.

Evaluation of a proposal for reliable low-cost grid power with 100% wind, water, and solar

Evaluation of a proposal for reliable low-cost grid power with 100% wind, water, and solar. By Christopher T. M Clack, Staffan A. Qvist, Jay Apt,, Morgan Bazilian, Adam R. Brandt, Ken Caldeira, Steven J. Davis, Victor Diakov, Mark A. Handschy, Paul D. H. Hines, Paulina Jaramillo, Daniel M. Kammen, Jane C. S. Long, M. Granger Morgan, Adam Reed, Varun Sivaram, James Sweeney, George R. Tynan, David G. Victor, John P. Weyant, and Jay F. Whitacre. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/06/16/1610381114.full

Significance: Previous analyses have found that the most feasible route to a low-carbon energy future is one that adopts a diverse portfolio of technologies. In contrast, Jacobson et al. (2015) consider whether the future primary energy sources for the United States could be narrowed to almost exclusively wind, solar, and hydroelectric power and suggest that this can be done at “low-cost” in a way that supplies all power with a probability of loss of load “that exceeds electric-utility-industry standards for reliability”. We find that their analysis involves errors, inappropriate methods, and implausible assumptions. Their study does not provide credible evidence for rejecting the conclusions of previous analyses that point to the benefits of considering a broad portfolio of energy system options. A policy prescription that overpromises on the benefits of relying on a narrower portfolio of technologies options could be counterproductive, seriously impeding the move to a cost effective decarbonized energy system.

Abstract: A number of analyses, meta-analyses, and assessments, including those performed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the International Energy Agency, have concluded that deployment of a diverse portfolio of clean energy technologies makes a transition to a low-carbon-emission energy system both more feasible and less costly than other pathways. In contrast, Jacobson et al. [Jacobson MZ, Delucchi MA, Cameron MA, Frew BA (2015) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 112(49):15060–15065] argue that it is feasible to provide “low-cost solutions to the grid reliability problem with 100% penetration of WWS [wind, water and solar power] across all energy sectors in the continental United States between 2050 and 2055”, with only electricity and hydrogen as energy carriers. In this paper, we evaluate that study and find significant shortcomings in the analysis. In particular, we point out that this work used invalid modeling tools, contained modeling errors, and made implausible and inadequately supported assumptions. Policy makers should treat with caution any visions of a rapid, reliable, and low-cost transition to entire energy systems that relies almost exclusively on wind, solar, and hydroelectric power.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Family Formation and Close Social Ties Within Religious Congregations

Family Formation and Close Social Ties Within Religious Congregations. By Benjamin Gurrentz
Journal of Marriage and Family, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jomf.12398/abstract

Abstract: The study of family and religion has yet to elaborate on the social ties that connect these two important and changing institutions. Specifically, how does family formation (i.e., marriage and childrearing) impact social ties to religious communities? Using longitudinal data from the Portraits of American Life Study (2006–2012) and fixed effects regression models that control for time-stable heterogeneity (N = 1,314), this study tests the effects of marriage and childrearing on changes in close congregational social ties. Fixed effects estimates suggest that marriage actually decreases close social ties to religious congregations, whereas rearing children within marital unions increases them. Thus, it is children, not marriage per se, that actually integrates married couples into religious communities. These contrasting effects tend to be the strongest among young adults, but they weaken with age as well as marital duration.

Scale of motivation to (re)work: Towards a new approach to the theory of self-determination

Scale of motivation to (re)work: Towards a new approach to the theory of self-determination. By  Camus, Gauthier; Berjot, Sophie; Amoura, Camille; Forest, Jacques
Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, Vol 49(2), Apr 2017, 122-132. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/cbs0000072

Abstract: The motivation of the unemployed to want to work again is an important topic for the workforce integration professionals, as well as researchers. However, there is currently no tool available to assess this type of motivation. Grounded in self-determination theory, we aim to overcome this gap by creating as well as validating such a scale. Seventeen items, reflecting the different subdimensions of motivation, were selected (following a pretest and 2 exploratory factor analyses (N = 88 and N = 94). Then these items were submitted to unemployed participants (N = 189), along with measures of self-efficacy, well-being and job search behaviours. A confirmatory factor analysis was performed and the links with other variables were analysed. All these analyses give credit to the validity of the scale of motivation to (re)work, hence creating a tool to answer the many questions that are facing practitioners and researchers in the field.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Customers increase consumption in response to more frequent information (monthly billing)

Information provision and consumer behavior: A natural experiment in billing frequency. By Casey Wichman
Journal of Public Economics, August 2017, Pages 13–33
http://www.rff.org/research/publications/information-provision-and-consumer-behavior-natural-experiment-billing

Abstract: In this study, I estimate a causal effect of increased billing frequency on consumer behavior. I exploit a natural experiment in which residential water customers switched exogenously from bimonthly to monthly billing. Customers increase consumption by 3.5–5 percent in response to more frequent information. This result is reconciled in models of price and quantity uncertainty, where increases in billing frequency reduce the distortion in consumer perceptions. Using treatment effects as sufficient statistics, I calculate consumer welfare gains equivalent to 0.5–1 percent of annual water expenditures. Heterogeneous treatment effects suggest increases in outdoor water use.

Bag "Leakage": The Effect of Disposable Carryout Bag Regulations on Unregulated Bags

Bag "Leakage": The Effect of Disposable Carryout Bag Regulations on Unregulated Bags. By Rebecca Taylor
University of California Working Paper, May 2017, https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2964036

Abstract: Governments often regulate the consumption of products with negative externalities (e.g., gasoline, tobacco, sugar). Leakage occurs when partial regulation results in increased consumption of products in unregulated parts of the economy. If unregulated consumption is easily substituted for regulated consumption, basing the success of a regulation solely on reduced consumption in the regulated market overstates the regulation’s welfare gains. This article quantifies leakage from an increasingly popular environmental policy — the regulation of disposable carryout bags (DCB). In California, DCB policies prohibit retail food stores from providing customers with thin plastic carryout bags at checkout and require stores to charge a minimum fee for paper carryout bags. However, all remaining types of disposable bags are unregulated (e.g., garbage bags, food storage bags, paper lunch sacks). Using quasi-random variation in local government DCB policy adoption in California from 2008-2015, I employ an event study design to quantify the effect of bag regulations on the consumption of plastic and paper carryout bags, as well as the consumption of other disposable bags sold. This article brings together two data sources: (i) weekly retail scanner data with product-level price and quantity information from 201 food stores in California, and (ii) observational data collected at checkout in seven Californian supermarkets. The main results show that a 40 million pound reduction of plastic from the elimination of plastic carryout bags is offset by an additional 16 million pounds of plastic from increased purchases of garbage bags (i.e., sales of small, medium, and tall garbage bags increase by 67%, 50%, and 5%, respectively). Additionally, DCB policies lead to a 69 million pound increase in paper carryout bags used annually. Altogether, I show that DCB policies are shifting consumers towards fewer but heavier bags. This bag "leakage" is an unintended consequence of DCB policies that offsets the benefits of reduced plastic carryout bag use. I conclude by discussing the environmental implications of policy-induced changes in the composition of plastic and paper bags, with respect to carbon footprint, landfilling, and marine pollution.