Saturday, June 3, 2017

Political Persecutions and Social Capital: Evidence from Imperial China

Autocratic Rule and Social Capital: Evidence from Imperial China. Melanie Meng Xue, Mark  Koyama
November 30, 2016. GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 16-50.

Abstract:     This paper studies the consequences of autocratic rule for social capital in the context of imperial China. Between 1660-1788, individuals were persecuted if they were suspected of subversive attitudes towards the autocratic ruler.   Using a difference-in-differences approach, our main finding is  that these persecutions led to an average decline of 38% in the number of charitable organizations in each subsequent decade.

To investigate the long-run effect of persecutions, we examine the impact that they had on the provision of local public goods.  During this period,  local public goods, such as basic education, relied primarily on voluntary contributions and local cooperation.   We show that persecutions are associated with lower provision of basic education suggesting that they permanently reduced social capital. This is consistent with what we  find in modern survey data:  persecutions left a legacy of mistrust and political apathy.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 83
Keywords: Social Capital, Institutions, Autocratic Rule, Persecutions, China

Insurance policy specifically for self-inflicted liver damage

China’s Zhongan sees scope for offbeat insurance.
Financial Times
Medical insurance often becomes invalid if the customer is drunk. But during the football World Cup in 2014, Shanghai-based Zhongan Insurance turned that rule upside down by offering Chinese football fans a policy specifically for self-inflicted liver damage.

It cost less than $1 and covered sports enthusiasts against alcohol poisoning for 30 days — paying out up to Rmb2,000 ($290) for hospital fees. It soon came to be known as “watching-football-drinking-too-much” insurance.

This has not been Zhongan’s only foray into more specialist areas of China’s insurancemarket. Another of its policies, called “high heat”, reimburses customers when the temperature hits 37°C. Another insures against flight delays — and, in many cases, pays out while the customer is still waiting in the departure lounge.

Zhongan has sold 5800m policies to 460m customers. This has quickly translated into profit.

Upward Mobility and Discrimination: The Case of Asian Americans

Upward Mobility and Discrimination: The Case of Asian Americans. By Nathaniel Hilger
NBER Working Paper No. 22748
October 2016
NBER Program(s):   LS

Asian Americans are the only non-white US racial group to experience long-term, institutional discrimination and subsequently exhibit high income. I re-examine this puzzle in California, where most Asians settled historically. Asians achieved extraordinary upward mobility relative to blacks and whites for every cohort born in California since 1920. This mobility stemmed primarily from gains in earnings conditional on education, rather than unusual educational mobility. Historical test score and prejudice data suggest low initial earnings for Asians, unlike blacks, reflected prejudice rather than skills. Post-war declines in discrimination interacting with previously uncompensated skills can account for Asians’ extraordinary upward mobility.

Sabotage occurs more often when Green Party candidates fail to win even minor offices

The political roots of domestic environmental sabotage
Benjamin Farrer & Graig Klein
Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties,

Volume 27, 2017 - Issue 2

Abstract: In this paper, we demonstrate that when environmentalist niche parties compete in a given constituency over a number of elections, but continually fail to win seats, then environmental sabotage becomes more frequent in that constituency. When mainstream tactics fail, radical tactics are used more frequently. Using a new data-set on the success rates of all Green Party candidates in US states, we show that environmental sabotage occurs more often when Green Party candidates fail to win even minor offices. This is true even when we control for other political expressions of environmentalism, such as interest group activity, and when we define ‘success’ through votes not seats. We discuss the implications of this for environmental politics, for social movements and democracy, and for political violence in the US.

Children of low-income parents are much less likely to become inventors than their higher-income counterparts

The Lifecycle of Inventors, by Alex Bell et al.
Harvard Working Paper, June 2016

Abstract: We use administrative records on the population of individuals who applied for or were granted a patent between 1996 and 2014 to characterize the lives of more than 1.2 million inventors in the United States. We show that children of low-income parents are much less likely to become inventors than their higher-income counterparts (as are minorities and women). Decompositions using third grade and older test scores indicate that this income-innovation gap can largely be accounted for by differences in human capital acquisition while children are growing up. We establish the importance of "innovation exposure effects" during childhood by showing that growing up in an area with a high innovation rate in a particular technology class is associated with a much higher probability of becoming an inventor specifically in that technology class. Similarly, exposure to innovation from parents or their colleagues in specific fields is also associated with greater future innovation by children in those same technological fields. Inventors' incomes are very skewed and uncertain at the start of their career. While our analysis does not directly identify the causal mechanisms that drive innovation, our descriptive findings shed light on which types of policy tools are likely to be most effective in sparking innovation. Calibrations suggest that "extensive margin" policies drawing more talented children from low-income families into the R&D sector have great potential to improve aggregate innovation rates.

Relationship between spicy food and aggressive cognition

You are what you eat: An empirical investigation of the relationship between spicy food and aggressive cognition. By Rishtee K. Batra, Tanuka Ghoshal, Rajagopal Raghunathan

Abstract: The popular saying “you are what you eat” suggests that people take on the characteristics of the food they eat. Wisdom from ancient texts and practitioners of alternative medicine seem to share the intuition that consuming spicy food may increase aggression. However, this relationship has not been empirically tested. In this research, we posit that those who consume “hot” and “spicy” food may be more prone to thoughts related to aggression. Across three studies, we find evidence for this proposition. Study 1 reveals that those who typically consume spicy food exhibit higher levels of trait aggression. Studies 2 and 3 reveal, respectively, that consumption of, and even mere exposure to spicy food, can semantically activate concepts related to aggression as well as lead to higher levels of perceived aggressive intent in others. Our work contributes to the literature on precursors of aggression, and has substantive implications for several stakeholders, including marketers, parents and policy makers.

Keywords: Aggressive cognition; Aggressive intent; Spicy food

Review of Vijay Joshi's India’s Long Road: The Search for Prosperity

India’s long road to prosperity, by Martin Wolf
Martin Wolf is impressed by an analysis of what the world’s largest democracy must do in order to thriveFinancial Times, May 24, 2017

India could do far better. That, in a sentence, is the conclusion of Vijay Joshi’s superb book. Joshi is an Indian economist who has spent most of his professional life at Oxford university. In this penetrating account of the past and present of Indian economic development, he casts a bright light on the prospects ahead. If India’s aim is to become a high-income country in the next generation, its economic, social and political performance needs to improve dramatically.

The good news is that there is room for improvement on many fronts. The bad news is that the obstacles to the needed improvement are huge. Worse, many emanate from the failures of the state and the political processes that guide it. Yet, as Joshi also notes, “The two fixed points in the socio-political setting of the Indian state’s development policies are that the country is a democracy, and an extremely diverse society.” The challenge is to improve performance within the constraints of these realities.

The success of Indian development matters, for at least three reasons: India will soon be the most populous country in the world; it is already far and away the largest democracy; and, above all, despite progress in the last three decades, between 270m and 360m Indians still lived in dire poverty (on slightly different definitions) in 2011 (that is, between 22 and 30 per cent of the population). If extreme poverty is to be eliminated from the world, it must be eliminated in India.

While the focus of India’s Long Road is on the economy, its analysis is appropriately comprehensive. It considers the post-independence growth record, the failure to create remunerative employment, the excessive role of publicly owned enterprises, the poor quality of Indian infrastructure and the inadequacy of environmental regulation. The book also analyses the successes and failures of macroeconomic management, the appalling quality of government-provided education and healthcare, the need for a better safety net for the poor, the long-term decay of the state, the prevalence of corruption and the role of India in the world economy.

In covering all these issues, Joshi combines enthusiastic engagement with the detachment of a scholar who has passed much of his life abroad. No better guide to India’s contemporary economy exists.

Over the past 70 years, India’s growth has shown two marked accelerations. The first followed independence in 1947. The second followed the economic liberalisation that began in the 1980s and accelerated dramatically after the balance of payments crisis of 1991. In the first period, growth averaged 3.5 per cent a year. In the second, it rose to 6 per cent (4 per cent per head). Unfortunately, after a further acceleration in the first decade of the 2000s, growth has slowed once again. The principal explanation for this recent slowdown is a marked weakening of investment by an over-indebted private sector.

                    "Joshi argues that India could provide a basic income to all by diverting resources wasted on subsidies"

So what should be the goal for the decades ahead? Joshi describes it simply as “rapid, inclusive, stable, and sustainable growth . . . within a political framework of liberal democracy”. More precisely, if incomes per head could grow at 7 per cent a year, India would achieve high-income status, at the level of Portugal, within a quarter of a century.

Only three economies have achieved something close to this in the past: Taiwan, South Korea and China. It represents an enormous challenge that cannot be met with the current “partial reform model”. The basic flaw of that model, argues Joshi, “is a failure to put the role of the state, and the relation between the state, the market, and the private sector, on the right footing”. The state, in brief, does what it does not need to do and fails to do what it does need to do.

It is no longer enough for the state merely to get out of the way, important though that still is in crucial areas. Among these is the labour market, whose huge distortions and inefficiencies have turned the demographic dividend into a demographic disaster.

Thus, in the 10 years from 1999 to 2009, India’s workforce increased by 63m. “Of these, 44 million joined the unorganized sector, 22 million became informal workers in the organized sector, and the number of formal workers in the organized sector fell by 3 million.” This is a social catastrophe. It is due not only to labour-market distortions, but to a host of constraints on the creation, operation and, not least, closure of organised and large-scale businesses.

Yet India also needs an effective state able to supply the public goods, public services and competent regulation on which an efficient economy depends. Unfortunately, that is not what now exists. All international surveys give India a very low rank for the efficiency and honesty of the state and the ease of doing business. Joshi argues that while the economy is more dynamic and the quality of policy has indeed improved since the 1980s, the quality of the state has deteriorated in many respects.

Among the many failures is the waste of state resources on inefficient subsidies that, though often given in the name of the poor, actually go to the better off. Indeed, one of the most original and persuasive aspects of the book is the argument that it would in principle be possible to provide a basic income to all Indians sufficient to lift everybody out of extreme poverty merely by diverting resources wasted on grotesquely costly subsidies. Yet, to take just one example, state governments continue to bribe farmers with free power, at the expense of a reliable electricity supply.

Will prime minister Narendra Modi be the new broom that sweeps all these cobwebs away? Alas no. His government’s performance is “mixed at best”. It has some achievements. But it has shown insufficient energy in tackling both the immediate problems of inadequate private investment, excessive debt and feeble banks, and the longer-term problems of dreadful education, lousy healthcare, weak infrastructure, corruption, regulatory incompetence, excessive interference and government waste.

A great opportunity for radically improved performance is being missed. This is not bad just for the Indian economy. There is a real danger that if the economy fails to perform as needed and desired, the governing Bharatiya Janata party will find itself increasingly attracted to its “dark side” of communal and caste division. That way lies not just economic failure, but possibly the destabilisation of Indian democracy, one of the great political achievements of the post-second world war era.

Those who care about the future of this remarkable country and indeed the future of democracy itself must hope that Modi gets this right. If they want to understand what he needs to do and why, they should first read this book.

India’s Long Road: The Search for Prosperity, by Vijay Joshi, Oxford University Press, RRP£22.99, 360 pages
Martin Wolf is the FT’s chief economics commentator

Determinants of financial outcomes and choices: the role of noncognitive abilities

Understanding the determinants of financial outcomes and choices: the role of noncognitive abilities, Gianpaolo Parise and Kim Peijnenburg
BIS Working Papers No 640. May 2017

We explore how financial distress and choices are affected by noncognitive abilities. Our measures stem from research in psychology and economics. In a representative panel of households, we find that people in the bottom decile of noncognitive abilities are five times more likely to experience financial distress compared to those in the top decile. Relatedly, individuals with lower noncognitive abilities make financial choices that increase their likelihood of distress: They are less likely to plan for retirement and save, and more likely to buy impulsively and to have unsecured debt. Causality is shown using childhood trauma as an instrument.

Our social evaluation of other people is influenced by their faces and their voices. How?

Audiovisual Integration in Social Evaluation. By Mila Mileva et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, in press

Abstract: Our social evaluation of other people is influenced by their faces and their voices. However, rather little is known about how these channels combine in forming “first impressions.” Over 5 experiments, we investigate the relative contributions of facial and vocal information for social judgments: dominance and trustworthiness. The experiments manipulate each of these sources of information within-person, combining faces and voices giving rise to different social attributions. We report that vocal pitch is a reliable source of information for judgments of dominance (Study 1), but not trustworthiness (Study 4). Faces and voices make reliable, but independent, contributions to social evaluation. However, voices have the larger influence in judgments of dominance (Study 2), whereas faces have the larger influence in judgments of trustworthiness (Study 5). The independent contribution of the 2 sources appears to be mandatory, as instructions to ignore 1 channel do not eliminate its influence (Study 3). Our results show that information contained in both the face and the voice contributes to first impression formation. This combination is, to some degree, outside conscious control, and the weighting of channel contribution varies according the trait being perceived.

Keywords: First  impressions; social evaluation; audio-visual integration; faces; voices

Independent of concealment frequency, frequency of mind-wandering to own secrets predicts lower well-being

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2017 May 8. doi: 10.1037/pspa0000085. [Epub ahead of print]

The Experience of Secrecy.


Patients treated by older physicians die more than patients cared for by younger ones, except those docs treating high volumes of patients

BMJ. 2017 May 16;357:j1797. doi: 10.1136/bmj.j1797.

Physician age and outcomes in elderly patients in hospital in the US: observational study.

Objectives To investigate whether outcomes of patients who were admitted to hospital differ between those treated by younger and older physicians.
Design: Observational study.
Setting: US acute care hospitals.

Participants: 20% random sample of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries aged ≥65 admitted to hospital with a medical condition in 2011-14 and treated by hospitalist physicians to whom they were assigned based on scheduled work shifts. To assess the generalizability of findings, analyses also included patients treated by general internists including both hospitalists and non-hospitalists.
Main outcome measures 30 day mortality and readmissions and costs of care.

Results: 736 537 admissions managed by 18 854 hospitalist physicians (median age 41) were included. Patients’ characteristics were similar across physician ages. After adjustment for characteristics of patients and physicians and hospital fixed effects (effectively comparing physicians within the same hospital), patients’ adjusted 30 day mortality rates were 10.8% for physicians aged <40 10.7="" 10.9="" 11.1="" 11.3="" 11.5="" 12.1="" 12.5="" 40-49="" 40="" 50-59="" a="" age="" aged="" among="" analyses.="" and="" association="" between="" br="" care="" confidence="" costs="" did="" for="" general="" high="" higher="" however="" in="" internists="" interval="" mortality.="" no="" not="" observed="" of="" older="" patient="" patients="" patterns="" physician="" physicians.="" physicians="" readmissions="" sensitivity="" several="" similar="" slightly="" there="" to="" vary="" volume="" was="" were="" while="" with=""> 

<40 10.7="" 10.9="" 11.1="" 11.3="" 11.5="" 12.1="" 12.5="" 40-49="" 50-59="" a="" age="" aged="" among="" analyses.="" and="" association="" between="" br="" care="" confidence="" costs="" did="" for="" general="" high="" higher="" however="" in="" internists="" interval="" mortality.="" no="" not="" observed="" of="" older="" patient="" patients="" patterns="" physician="" physicians.="" physicians="" readmissions="" sensitivity="" several="" similar="" slightly="" there="" to="" vary="" volume="" was="" were="" while="" with="">Conclusions: Within the same hospital, patients treated by older physicians had higher mortality than patients cared for by younger physicians, except those physicians treating high volumes of patients.

Ethnic and linguistic fractionalization contributes to poverty levels

Ethnic Diversity and Poverty. By Sefa Awawory Churchill, Russell Smyth
World Development, Volume 95, July 2017, Pages 285–302


.  We examine the relationship between ethnic diversity and poverty.
.  We measure poverty using a wide range of indicators from the World Bank and UNDP. Ethnic diversity is measured by both fractionalization and polarization.
.  Ethnic diversity increases poverty.

Summary: We examine the relationship between ethnic diversity and poverty for a cross-sectional sample of developing countries. We measure diversity using indices of ethnic and linguistic fractionalization, and measure poverty using the multidimensional poverty index (MPI), multidimensional poverty headcount (MPH), intensity of deprivation, poverty gap, and poverty headcount ratio. We find that ethnic and linguistic fractionalization contributes to poverty levels. Specifically, after controlling for endogeneity, we find that a standard deviation increase in ethnic fractionalization is associated with a 0.32-, 0.44- and 0.53-standard deviation increase in the MPI, MPH and the intensity of deprivation, respectively. Moreover, a standard deviation increase in ethnic fractionalization is associated with between a 0.34- and 0.63-standard deviation increase in the population living below $1.90 and $3.10, the poverty gap at $1.90 and $3.10 a day and the headcount ratio at $1.90 and $3.10 a day. Similar results are also observed for linguistic fractionalization with standardized coefficients between 0.53 and 0.93. We find that our results are robust to alternative ways to measure poverty and ethnic diversity including ethnic polarization as well as alternative approaches to address endogeneity.

Key words: ethnic diversity; poverty; fractionalization; polarization

The Effect of Income on Subjective Well-Being: Evidence from the 2008 Economic Stimulus Tax Rebates

The Effect of Income on Subjective Well-Being: Evidence from the 2008 Economic Stimulus Tax Rebates. By Marta Lachowska. In Journal of Human Resources, Oct 2015

Abstract: This paper uses tax rebate payments from the 2008 economic stimulus to estimate the effect of a one-time change in income on three measures of subjective well-being: life satisfaction, health satisfaction, and affect. The income effect is identified by exploiting the plausibly exogenous variation in the payment schedule of the rebates. Using both ordinary least squares and two-stage least squares estimators, I find that the rebates had a large and positive impact on affect, which is explained by a reduction in feelings of stress and worry. For life satisfaction and health satisfaction, there is weaker evidence of a positive impact. Overall, the results show that a temporary increase in liquidity may enhance emotional well-being and that this effect is relatively stronger for low-income respondents.

Keywords: Subjective well-being, affect, income effect, quasi-experiment, instrumental variable

JEL Classification: I31, H31, E62

On the Size of the Gender Difference in Competitiveness

On the Size of the Gender Difference in Competitiveness. By Silvia Saccardo, Aniela Pietrasz, Uri Gneezy. In Management Science,

Abstract: We design a new procedure for measuring competitiveness and use it to estimate the magnitude of the gender gap in competitiveness. Before working on a task, participants choose what percentage of their payoffs will be based on a piece-rate compensation scheme; the rest of their payoff is allocated to a competitive compensation scheme. This novel procedure allows us to distinguish between 101 levels of competitiveness, as opposed to the binary measure used in the literature. Whereas the binary measure allows researchers to conclude that about twice as many men as women choose to compete (typically two-thirds versus one-third), the new procedure sheds light on the intensive margin. We find that the intensity of the preference is more extreme than the binary measure could detect. For example, we find that only one-fifth of the most competitive 25% of our participants are women, and the most competitive 10% of our participants are all men. The new procedure also allows us to study the correlation between competitiveness and parameters such as overconfidence, attitudes toward risk, and ambiguity.

Data and the online appendix are available at

Keywords: gender; competitiveness; behavioral economics

Perceived warmth and competence of others shape voluntary deceptive behaviour

Perceived warmth and competence of others shape voluntary deceptive behaviour in a morally relevant setting. Br J Psychol. 2017 Mar 9. doi: 10.1111/bjop.12245. By Azevedo RT, Panasiti MS, Maglio R, Aglioti SM.

Abstract: The temptation to deceive others compares to a moral dilemma: it involves a conflict between the temptation to obtain some benefit and the desire to conform to personal and social moral norms or avoid aversive social consequences. Thus, people might feel different levels of emotional and moral conflict depending on the target of the deception. Here we explored, in a morally relevant setting, how social judgements based on two fundamental dimensions of human social cognition - 'warmth' and 'competence' - impact on the decision to deceive others. Results revealed independent effects for warmth and competence. Specifically, while people are less inclined to deceive for self-gain those individuals they perceive as warm, they also tend to lie more to highly competent others. Furthermore, the perceived warmth and competence modulated the general tendency to reduce deceptive behaviour when there was a risk of disclosure compared to when the lying was anonymous, highlighting the importance of these judgements in social evaluation processes. Together, our results demonstrate that the emotional costs and personal moral standards that inhibit engagement in deceptive behaviour are not stable but rather malleable according to the target and the consequences of the deception.

© 2017 The British Psychological Society.
KEYWORDS: bias; deception; guilt; lie; moral; stereotype content model

Do Globalization and Free Markets Drive Obesity among Children and Youth? An Empirical Analysis, 1990–2013

Do Globalization and Free Markets Drive Obesity among Children and Youth? An Empirical Analysis, 1990–2013

ABSTRACT: Scholars of public health identify globalization as a major cause of obesity. Free markets are blamed for spreading high calorie, nutrient-poor diets, and sedentary lifestyles across the globe. Global trade and investment agreements apparently curtail government action in the interest of public health. Globalization is also blamed for raising income inequality and social insecurities, which contribute to “obesogenic” environments. Contrary to recent empirical studies, this study demonstrates that globalization and several component parts, such as trade openness, FDI flows, and an index of economic freedom, reduce weight gain and obesity among children and youth, the most likely age cohort to be affected by the past three decades of globalization and attendant lifestyle changes. The results suggest strongly that local-level factors possibly matter much more than do global-level factors for explaining why some people remain thin and others put on weight. The proposition that globalization is homogenizing cultures across the globe in terms of diets and lifestyles is possibly exaggerated. The results support the proposition that globalized countries prioritize health because of the importance of labor productivity and human capital due to heightened market competition, ceteris paribus, even if rising incomes might drive high consumption.

KEYWORDS: Globalization, obesity, trade and FDI, economic freedom

Small association between socioeconomic status and adult fast-food consumption in US

The association between socioeconomic status and adult fast-food consumption in the U.S. By Jay L. Zagorsky , Patricia K. Smith. Economics & Human Biology

•   Fast-food consumption among adults varies little across SES, measured as income and wealth.
•   Descriptive analyses indicate a weak, inverted U-shaped association between fast-food and SES.
•   Checking nutrition labels frequently and drinking less soda predict less adult fast-food intake.
•    More work hours predict greater fast-food intake.

Abstract: Health follows a socioeconomic status (SES) gradient in developed countries, with disease prevalence falling as SES rises. This pattern is partially attributed to differences in nutritional intake, with the poor eating the least healthy diets. This paper examines whether there is an SES gradient in one specific aspect of nutrition: fast-food consumption. Fast food is generally high in calories and low in nutrients. We use data from the 2008, 2010, and 2012 waves of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79) to test whether adult fast-food consumption in the United States falls as monetary resources rise (n = 8136). This research uses more recent data than previous fast-food studies and includes a comprehensive measure of wealth in addition to income to measure SES.

Protestant Ethic and Entrepreneurship: Religious Minorities in the Holy Roman Empire

The Protestant Ethic and Entrepreneurship:  Evidence from Religious Minorities in the Former Holy Roman Empire.  By Luca Nunziata, Lorenzo Rocco. European Journal of Political Economy

Abstract: We investigate the effect of Protestantism versus Catholicism on the decision to become an entrepreneur in former Holy Roman Empire regions. Our research design exploits religious minorities' strong attachment to religious ethic and the predetermined historical determination of religious minorities' geographical distribution in the 1500 s as a result of the “cuius regio eius religio” (whose realm, his religion) rule. We find that today Protestantism increases the probability to be an entrepreneur by around 5 percentage points with respect to Catholicism, a result that survives to a battery of robustness checks. We explicit the assumptions underlying the identification strategy and provide an extensive testing of their validity by making use of several European datasets.

JEL classification:     J24; Z12; J21; Z13

Keywords:    Entrepreneurship; Religion; Culture; Protestantism; Catholicism

Socially excluded consumers tend to rely on affect to process information, and prefer persuasive messages based on feelings

Speaking to the heart: Social exclusion and reliance on feelings versus reasons in persuasion. By Fang-Chi Lu , Jayati Sinh

Abstract: The authors of this study identify an alternative frame of communication for persuading people who feel socially excluded to behave in ways that benefit individual and social well-being, regardless of future connection possibilities. The authors suggest that socially excluded (included) consumers tend to rely on affect (cognition) in processing information, and to consequently prefer persuasive messages based on feelings (reasons). The effect occurs because people tend to ruminate about exclusionary events, which depletes self-regulatory resources. Thus, distraction that interferes with rumination can mitigate the social exclusion effect on affective processing. The authors present findings from five studies across various paradigms promoting personal and social well-being (i.e., donating blood, recycling, and consuming healthful foods) and discuss the theoretical and policy implications.

Keywords: Distraction intervention; Emotional versus rational appeals; Persuasion; Social exclusion

Expert ability can actually impair the accuracy of expert perception when judging others' performance

Larson, J. S., & Billeter, D. M. (2017). Adaptation and fallibility in experts' judgments of novice performers. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43(2), 271–288.

These authors show that expert ability can actually impair the accuracy of expert perception in the context of judging the performance of others.

They had individuals with a range of singing experience rank-order recordings of different vocalists singing "Let it Go" from best to worst. The true quality of each vocalist was assessed by applying a Bayesian model to the ranking data, and then judgment accuracy was assessed by comparing these "true" rankings to those given by the judges.

Expert singers were less accurate than intermediate singers at determining the relative quality of low-quality vocalists. A subsequent experiment showed that experts notice more mistakes than intermediate or novice judges, and judge these mistakes more harshly.

The authors interpret these results in terms of adaptation level theory, which suggests that people are better able to discriminate at their own adaptation level. Thus, performance expertise increases the ability to discriminate among top performers, but this reduces the ability to discriminate among lower-level performers.

Complex trauma in childhood, a psychiatric diagnosis in adulthood: Making meaning of a double-edged phenomenon

Complex trauma in childhood, a psychiatric diagnosis in adulthood: Making meaning of a double-edged phenomenon. By McCormack, Lynne; Thomson, Sherilyn. In Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy,  Vol 9(2), Mar   2017, 156-165.

Abstract: Objective: No known research explores the double-edged phenomenon of childhood trauma/adult mental health consumer. Therefore, whether receiving a psychiatric diagnosis in light of childhood trauma supports or impedes psychological wellbeing in adult life, is unknown. Method: Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) provided the methodological framework. Data were collected through the use of semistructured interviews. Analysis sought thematic representation from subjective interpretations of the experienced phenomenon: childhood trauma survivor/mental health consumer. Results: Data revealed 1 superordinate theme, Childhood Betrayal, Identity, and Worthiness, that overarched 5 subordinate themes a) legacies, (b) the label, (c) putting the jigsaw together, (d) stigma, and (e) better than good enough self. Legacies of doubt that perpetuated “not good enough” delayed the development of an adult identity of worthiness in these participants. Importantly, the right diagnosis separated self as worthy-adult from self as traumatized child and facilitated positive change for breaking harmful cycles, self-valuing, and increased empathy, wisdom, and patience. Conclusions: Findings inform future research and therapeutic practice in regards to adult help seeking behaviors in light of childhood trauma, often postponed through fear of stigma associated with mental health diagnoses and services. Similarly, findings suggest that ameliorating wellbeing may be dependent on a therapeutic relationship in which accuracy or right fit of diagnosis provides a conduit for the client to disengage from self-blame, unworthiness, and “not good enough.”