Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Chinese Threat to Australian Openness. By Merriden Varrall

A Chinese Threat to Australian Openness. By Merriden Varrall
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.

Statehood experience, legal traditions, and climate change policies

Ang, J. B. and Fredriksson, P. G. (2017), Statehood experience, legal traditions, and climate change policies. Economic Inquiry, 55: 1511–1537. doi:10.1111/ecin.12441

Abstract: This study investigates how the implementation of modern climate change policies is related to former colonies' length of state history and their legal heritage. We argue that countries with longer statehood experience around the time of colonization were better equipped to implement the legal philosophies transplanted by their colonial powers. Therefore, the implications of receiving British common law versus French civil law should be particularly important in countries with a greater accumulated history of statehood. Using a cross-section of up to 78 former colonies, our results provide support for this hypothesis. In particular, our estimates demonstrate that common law countries have weaker modern climate change policies than civil law countries and the difference is inflated by a longer statehood experience, measured by the length of state history from 1 to 1800 AD. Legal origin has no effect in areas which, by the time of colonization, had no statehood experience. Finally, we report similar results for the pattern of labor market regulations. (JEL K15, K31, K32, O44, Q54, Q58)

The Helping Behavior Helps Lighten Physical Burden

The Helping Behavior Helps Lighten Physical Burden. Xilin Li and Xiaofei Xie. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01973533.2017.1320762

Abstract: It is often believed that helping behaviors benefit the recipients at the expense of the performers. However, we propose that costly helping behaviors could alleviate feelings of physical burden experienced by the performers. In support of the proposal, we found in five studies that both imaginary and real helping behaviors led the performers to perceive physically challenging tasks as less demanding (Studies 1, 2, 3, 5), such as perceiving a steep mountain road as less steep (Study 2), a heavy carton as lighter (Study 4), and a long path as shorter (Study 5). These results challenge the conventional wisdom that helping behaviors always come at the cost of the helper and corroborate a growing body of literature showing that helping others could benefit the performer.

Ethnic politics and the diffusion of mobile technology in Africa

Ethnic politics and the diffusion of mobile technology in Africa. Roland Hodler and Paul Raschky. Economics Letters, October 2017, Pages 78-81, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165176517302914

•    Ethnic power-sharing depends on groups’ population shares (Francois et al. 2015).
•    Study on the effect of population shares on mobile phone infrastructure.
•    Identification strategy exploits artificial drawing of African borders.
•    Larger ethnic groups have more and better mobile phone infrastructure.
•    Ethnic power-sharing thus affects the diffusion of mobile technology in Africa.

Abstract: We analyze the effect of an ethnic group’s country-level population share on the mobile phone infrastructure in Africa. Consistent with the African power-sharing arrangements documented by Francois et al. (2015), we find that larger ethnic groups benefit from a higher concentration of mobile phone infrastructure and a higher fraction of UMTS cell sites.

Keywords: Power sharing, Mobile phones, Technology diffusion, Africa

The Economic Impact of China's Anti-Corruption Campaign

The Economic Impact of China's Anti-Corruption Campaign. Nan Chen and Zemin (Zachary) Zhong. University of California Working Paper, June 2017, https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2996009

Abstract: Political corruption is a major problem in governance and is pervasive especially in developing countries. Depending on pre-existing distortions, corruption may benefit economic growth by "greasing the wheel", or it may distort supply of public goods and create inefficiency. Empirically testing the effect of corruption on efficiency and distribution is difficult due to the evasive nature of corruption. We take an alternative approach by investigating the economic impacts of governments' anti-corruption efforts. Our analysis is performed in the context of China's recent anti-corruption campaign under the new president Xi Jinping, the largest of its kind in recent history. As an important initiative of this campaign, the CPC's Provincial Committee of Discipline Inspection (PCDI) send inspection teams to investigate county-level government for potential corruption. The variation in the timing of PCDI visit allows us to use a difference-in-difference design to identify the impact of anti-corruption on local economy. Using a unique administrative dataset of vehicle registration, we find that PCDI visits cause car sales to drop by 3.4% at county level. The effect is surprisingly uniformly distributed across different price tiers. Luxury brands exhibit a similar drop as domestic brands, suggesting corruption's impact permeates a wide income spectrum. Over time, the effect is strengthening: We observe a 2% drop in the first three months of PCDI visit, and a 10% drop one year afterwards. The especially large impact cannot be explained by decline in government officials' consumption behavior, suggesting anti-corruption efforts also affect the private sector.

We validate our empirical strategy by showing that:

(1) the timing of PCDI visits cannot be predicted by observable county characteristics and,
(2) car registrations exhibit parallel pre-treatment trends.

The results are robust to placebo tests and alternative specifications. We find that the effect of PCDI visit on car sales cannot be explained by local economic indicators or monitoring cost as measured by distances to provincial/prefectural governments.

Keywords: Corruption, Political Economy, China
JEL Classification: D73, P16, H70, L62

Painting too “Rosie” a picture: The impact of external threat on women’s economic welfare

Painting too “Rosie” a picture: The impact of external threat on women’s economic welfare. Jaroslav Tir and Maureen Bailey. Conflict Management and Peace Science, http://www.colorado.edu/polisci/2017/04/19/painting-too-rosie-picture-impact-external-threat-womens-economic-welfare

Abstract: Why is the economic status of women better in one country than another? We maintain that the answer lies in part in the extent of external threat to the homeland territory a country faces. To respond to the threat, states centralize their decision-making, invest more in the military and decrease citizens’ liberties. Associated restrictions and emphases on more “masculine” values create an environment where women’s welfare takes a back seat to the ostensible priority of defending the homeland. Utilizing measures of women’s unemployment from across the world, 1981-2001, we demonstrate that higher levels of territorial threat decrease women’s economic welfare.

China's Lost Generation: Changes in Beliefs and their Intergenerational Transmission

China's Lost Generation: Changes in Beliefs and their Intergenerational Transmission. Gerard Roland and David Yang. NBER Working Paper, May 2017, http://www.nber.org/papers/w23441

Abstract: Beliefs about whether effort pays off govern some of the most fundamental choices individuals make. This paper uses China’s Cultural Revolution to understand how these beliefs can be affected, how they impact behavior, and how they are transmitted across generations. During the Cultural Revolution, China’s college admission system based on entrance exams was suspended for a decade until 1976, effectively depriving an entire generation of young people of the opportunity to access higher education (the “lost generation”). Using data from a nationally representative survey, we compare cohorts who graduated from high school just before and after the college entrance exam was resumed. We find that members of the “lost generation” who missed out on college because they were born just a year or two too early believe that effort pays off to a much lesser degree, even 40 years into their adulthood. However, they invested more in their children’s education, and transmitted less of their changed beliefs to the next generation, suggesting attempts to safeguard their children from sharing their misfortunes.

People work less hard for others

People work less hard for others. Michael Inzlicht & Cendri A. Hutcherson. Nature Human Behaviour 1, Article number: 0148 (2017). doi:10.1038/s41562-017-0148

Effort is costly. People devalue personal rewards that require some measure of physical or even mental effort. Laboratory studies now suggest that physical effort is especially costly when engaged to benefit others. Even when people are willing, however, their efforts are often superficial, with people doing what is necessary but no more.

Corrupting cooperation and how anti-corruption strategies may backfire

Corrupting cooperation and how anti-corruption strategies may backfire. Michael Muthukrishna et al.
Nature Human Behaviour, July 2017, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-017-0138

Abstract: Understanding how humans sustain cooperation in large, anonymous societies remains a central question of both theoretical and practical importance. In the laboratory, experimental behavioural research using tools like public goods games suggests that cooperation can be sustained by institutional punishment - analogous to governments, police forces and other institutions that sanction free-riders on behalf of individuals in large societies. In the real world, however, corruption can undermine the effectiveness of these institutions. Levels of corruption correlate with institutional, economic and cultural factors, but the causal directions of these relationships are difficult to determine. Here, we experimentally model corruption by introducing the possibility of bribery. We investigate the effect of structural factors (a leader’s punitive power and economic potential), anti-corruption strategies (transparency and leader investment in the public good) and cultural background. The results reveal that (1) corruption possibilities cause a large (25%) decrease in public good provisioning, (2) empowering leaders decreases cooperative contributions (in direct opposition to typical institutional punishment results), (3) growing up in a more corrupt society predicts more acceptance of bribes and (4) anti-corruption strategies are effective under some conditions, but can further decrease public good provisioning when leaders are weak and the economic potential is poor. These results suggest that a more nuanced approach to corruption is needed and that proposed panaceas, such as transparency, may actually be harmful in some contexts.

Sentimental Value and Gift Giving: Givers' Fears of Getting It Wrong Prevents Them from Getting It Right

Sentimental Value and Gift Giving: Givers' Fears of Getting It Wrong Prevents Them from Getting It Right. Julian Givi and Jeff Galak. Journal of Consumer Psychology, https://www.journals.elsevier.com/journal-of-consumer-psychology/forthcoming-articles/sentimental-value-and-gift-giving-givers

Abstract: Sentimental value is the value derived from an emotionally-laden item's associations with significant others, or special events or times in one's life. The present research demonstrates that when faced with the choice between sentimentally valuable gifts and gifts with superficial attributes that match the preferences of the recipient, givers give the latter much more often than recipients would prefer to receive such gifts. This asymmetry appears to be driven by givers feeling relatively certain that preference-matching gifts will be well-liked by recipients, but relatively uncertain that the same is true for sentimentally valuable gifts. Three studies demonstrate this gift-giving mismatch and validate the proposed mechanism across a variety of gift-giving occasions and giver-receiver relationship types. The contribution of these findings to the gift-giving literature, as well as directions for future research, are discussed.

Illusory Increases in Font Size Improve Letter Recognition

Illusory Increases in Font Size Improve Letter Recognition. Martin Lages, Stephanie Boyle & Rob Jenkins. Psychological Science, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28677992

Abstract: Visual performance of human observers depends not only on the optics of the eye and early sensory encoding but also on subsequent cortical processing and representations. In two experiments, we demonstrated that motion adaptation can enhance as well as impair visual acuity. Observers who experienced an expanding motion aftereffect exhibited improved letter recognition, whereas observers who experienced a contracting motion aftereffect showed impaired letter recognition. We conclude that illusory enlargement and shrinkage of a visual stimulus can modulate visual acuity.

Physical Proximity Increases Persuasive Effectiveness through Visual Imagery

Physical Proximity Increases Persuasive Effectiveness through Visual Imagery. Yanli Jia et al. Journal of Consumer Psychology, https://www.journals.elsevier.com/journal-of-consumer-psychology/forthcoming-articles/physical-proximity-increases-persuasive-effectiveness

Abstract: Six experiments converged on the conclusion that consumers' physical distance from the verbal description of an event or a product can influence their beliefs in its implications. For example, participants' proximity to information about the likelihood of surviving an airline crash can influence their expectations that there would be survivors of a real-life airplane accident, and being close to the description of a commercial product can influence beliefs that the product would be effective. These and other effects are mediated by the vividness of the mental image that participants form on the basis of the information. Consequently, the effects were attenuated when participants are under high cognitive load or when the verbal description lacks the detail necessary for forming a clear mental image. Alternative interpretations in terms of task involvement, perceptual fluency and construal levels are evaluated.
Firm Performance in the Face of Fear: How CEO Moods Affect Firm Performance. Ali Akansu et al. Journal of Behavioral Finance, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15427560.2017.1338704?journalCode=hbhf20

Abstract: The authors use facial emotion recognition software to quantify CEO mood. Anger or disgust motivates a CEO to work harder to improve his or her situation; thus firm profitability improves in the subsequent quarter. Happy CEOs are less likely to work on hard or unpleasant tasks; thus profitability decreases in the subsequent quarter. In the short term, fear explains the firm's announcement period market performance. However, fear is transient and performance improvement is short term.

KEYWORDS: Corporate governance, CEO, Firm performance, Moods, Affect, Emotions, Nonverbal information, Facial recognition, Emotion recognition, Soft information

Getting the Rich and Powerful to Give

Getting the Rich and Powerful to Give. Judd Kessler, Katherine Milkman & Yiwei Zhang. University of Pennsylvania Working Paper, June 2017, https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2994367

Abstract: What motivates the rich and powerful to exhibit generosity? We explore this important question in a large field experiment. We solicit donations from 32,174 alumni of an Ivy League university, including thousands of rich and powerful alumni. Consistent with past psychology research, we find that the rich and powerful respond dramatically, and differently than others, to being given a sense of agency over the use of donated funds. Gifts from rich and powerful alumni increase by 200-300 percent when they are given a sense of agency. Results suggest that motivating the rich and powerful to act may require tailored interventions.

Keywords: charitable giving, agency, natural field experiment, wealth

The world looks better together: How close others enhance our visual experiences

The world looks better together: How close others enhance our visual experiences. Erica Boothby et al. Personal Relationships, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/pere.12201/abstract

Abstract: People derive a number of benefits from sharing experiences with close others. However, most research on this topic has been restricted to forms of sharing involving explicit socializing, including verbal communication, emotion expression, and behavioral interaction. In two studies, these complexities were eliminated to find out whether merely experiencing visual stimuli (photographs) simultaneously with a close other - without communicating - enhances people's evaluations of those stimuli relative to coexperiencing the same stimuli with a stranger or alone. Compared to when viewers were alone, visual scenes were enhanced (better liked and seen as more real) when coexperienced with a close other and were liked less when coexperienced with a stranger. Implications for close relationships are discussed.

Shareholder Protection and Agency Costs: An Experimental Analysis

Shareholder Protection and Agency Costs: An Experimental Analysis. Jacob LaRiviere, Matthew McMahon & William Neilson. Management Science, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bdm.2023/abstract

Abstract: Two competing principal-agent models explain why firms pay dividends. The substitute model proposes that corporate insiders pay dividends to signal and build trust with outside shareholders who lack legal protection. The outcome model, in contrast, surmises that when shareholders have legal protection, they demand dividends from insiders to prevent them from expropriating corporate funds. Either way, dividends represent an agency cost paid to align the interests of shareholders and insiders. Expropriations by insiders and reduced investment by shareholders are also agency costs, but they are difficult to identify with archival data. Using a laboratory experiment, we identify the impact of strengthened shareholder protection on all three types of agency costs. Dividend payout ratios are five times larger with stronger investor protection, insider expropriation ratios are twice as high, and outsider investment falls by 45%. Thus, we find evidence that strengthening shareholder protection introduces previously unidentified agency costs into the insider-investor relationship.

Retirement, Consumption of Political Information, and Political Knowledge

Retirement, Consumption of Political Information, and Political Knowledge. Marcel Garz. European Journal of Political Economy, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2017.07.004

Abstract: Democratic societies depend on citizens being informed about candidates and representatives, to allow for optimal voting and political accountability. As the Fourth Estate, news media have a crucial role in this context. However, due to selective exposure, media bias, and endogeneity it is not a priori clear if news consumption increases voter information. Focusing on the increase in leisure time that is associated with retirement, this study investigates whether changes in the consumption of political information affect campaign-related knowledge. For that purpose, I use survey data pertaining to the 2000, 2004, and 2008 US presidential elections. Instrumenting with eligibility for old age benefits, the results show that retirement improves respondents' performance in answering knowledge questions. The effect is mostly driven by additional exposure to newscasts and newspapers. There is also evidence of increasing polarization due to retirement.

JEL classification: D12; D83; J14; J26

Keywords: Learning; Media effects; News consumption; Political knowledge; Retirement

The dark side of the sublime: Distinguishing a threat-based variant of awe

Gordon, A. M., Stellar, J. E., Anderson, C. L., McNeil, G. D., Loew, D., & Keltner, D. (2017). The dark side of the sublime: Distinguishing a threat-based variant of awe. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 113(2), 310-328. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000120

Abstract: Theoretical conceptualizations of awe suggest this emotion can be more positive or negative depending on specific appraisal processes. However, the emergent scientific study of awe rarely emphasizes its negative side, classifying it instead as a positive emotion. In the present research we tested whether there is a more negative variant of awe that arises in response to vast, complex stimuli that are threatening (e.g., tornadoes, terrorist attack, wrathful god). We discovered people do experience this type of awe with regularity (Studies 1 & 4) and that it differs from other variants of awe in terms of its underlying appraisals, subjective experience, physiological correlates, and consequences for well-being. Specifically, threat-based awe experiences were appraised as lower in self-control and certainty and higher in situational control than other awe experiences, and were characterized by greater feelings of fear (Studies 2a & 2b). Threat-based awe was associated with physiological indicators of increased sympathetic autonomic arousal, whereas positive awe was associated with indicators of increased parasympathetic arousal (Study 3). Positive awe experiences in daily life (Study 4) and in the lab (Study 5) led to greater momentary well-being (compared with no awe experience), whereas threat-based awe experiences did not. This effect was partially mediated by increased feelings of powerlessness during threat-based awe experiences. Together, these findings highlight a darker side of awe.

The Limits of Partisan Prejudice

The Limits of Partisan Prejudice. Yphtach Lelkes and Sean Westwood. Journal of Politics, April 2017, Pages 485-501, http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/688223

Abstract: Partisanship increasingly factors into the behavior of Americans in both political and nonpolitical situations, yet the bounds of partisan prejudice are largely unknown. In this paper, we systematically evaluate the limits of partisan prejudice using a series of five studies situated within a typology of prejudice. We find that partisan prejudice predicts suppression of hostile rhetoric toward one's own party, avoidance of members of the opposition, and a desire for preferential treatment for one's own party. While these behaviors may cause incidental or indirect harm to the opposition, we find that even the most affectively polarized - those with the strongest disdain for the opposition - are no more likely to intentionally harm the opposition than those with minimal levels of affective polarization.

Genetic and environmental sources of individual differences in views on aging

Kornadt, A. E., & Kandler, C. (2017). Genetic and environmental sources of individual differences in views on aging. Psychology and Aging, 32(4), 388-399. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pag0000174

Abstract: Views on aging are central psychosocial variables in the aging process, but knowledge about their determinants is still fragmental. Thus, the authors investigated the degree to which genetic and environmental factors contribute to individual differences in various domains of views on aging (wisdom, work, fitness, and family), and whether these variance components vary across ages. They analyzed data from 350 monozygotic and 322 dizygotic twin pairs from the Midlife Development in the U.S. (MIDUS) study, aged 25–74. Individual differences in views on aging were mainly due to individual-specific environmental and genetic effects. However, depending on the domain, genetic and environmental contributions to the variance differed. Furthermore, for some domains, variability was larger for older participants; this was attributable to increases in environmental components. This study extends research on genetic and environmental sources of psychosocial variables and stimulates future studies investigating the etiology of views on aging across the life span.

Photographic Memory: The Effects of Volitional Photo Taking on Memory for Visual and Auditory Aspects of an Experience

Photographic Memory: The Effects of Volitional Photo Taking on Memory for Visual and Auditory Aspects of an Experience. Alixandra Barasch et al. Psychological Science, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28650721

Abstract: How does volitional photo taking affect unaided memory for visual and auditory aspects of experiences? Across one field and three lab studies, we found that, even without revisiting any photos, participants who could freely take photographs during an experience recognized more of what they saw and less of what they heard, compared with those who could not take any photographs. Further, merely taking mental photos had similar effects on memory. These results provide support for the idea that photo taking induces a shift in attention toward visual aspects and away from auditory aspects of an experience. Additional findings were in line with this mechanism: Participants with a camera had better recognition of aspects of the scene that they photographed than of aspects they did not photograph. Furthermore, participants who used a camera during their experience recognized even nonphotographed aspects better than participants without a camera did. Meta-analyses including all reported studies support these findings.

Our own action kinematics predict the perceived affective states of others

Our own action kinematics predict the perceived affective states of others. Rosanna Edey et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, July 2017, Pages 1263-1268, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28639823

Abstract: Our movement kinematics provide useful cues about our affective states. Given that our experiences furnish models that help us to interpret our environment, and that a rich source of action experience comes from our own movements, in the present study, we examined whether we use models of our own action kinematics to make judgments about the affective states of others. For example, relative to one's typical kinematics, anger is associated with fast movements. Therefore, the extent to which we perceive anger in others may be determined by the degree to which their movements are faster than our own typical movements. We related participants' walking kinematics in a neutral context to their judgments of the affective states conveyed by observed point-light walkers (PLWs). As predicted, we found a linear relationship between one's own walking kinematics and affective state judgments, such that faster participants rated slower emotions more intensely relative to their ratings for faster emotions. This relationship was absent when observing PLWs where differences in velocity between affective states were removed. These findings suggest that perception of affective states in others is predicted by one's own movement kinematics, with important implications for perception of, and interaction with, those who move differently.

Social Distance Increases Perceived Physical Distance

Social Distance Increases Perceived Physical Distance. Andrea Stevenson Won, Ketaki Shriram & Diana Tamir. Social Psychological and Personality Science, http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1948550617707017

Abstract: Proximity, or spatial closeness, can generate social closeness - the closer people are together, the more they interact, affiliate, and befriend one another. Mediated communication allows people to bridge spatial distance and can increase social closeness between conversational partners, even when they are separated by distance. However, mediated communication may not always make people feel closer together. Here, we test a hypothesis derived from construal theory, about one way in which mediated communication might increase spatial distance, by imposing social distance between two texting partners. In three studies, the social distance generated by a text conversation correlated with estimates of spatial distance. Conversations designed to generate social distance increased estimates of spatial distance. We discuss this relationship in light of the rise in computer-mediated communication.

The Dark Side of Fluency: Fluent Names Increase Drug Dosing

The Dark Side of Fluency: Fluent Names Increase Drug Dosing. Simone Dohle and Amanda Montoya. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28639797

Abstract: Prior research has demonstrated that high processing fluency influences a wide range of evaluations and behaviors in a positive way. But can high processing fluency also lead to potentially hazardous medical behavior? In 2 controlled experiments, we demonstrate that increasing the fluency of pharmaceutical drug names increases drug dosage. Experiment 1 shows that drugs with fluent names are perceived as safer than those with disfluent names and this effect increases drug dosage for both synthetically produced and herbal drugs. Experiment 2 demonstrates that people chose a higher dosage for themselves and for a child if the drug bears a fluent (vs. disfluent) name. Using linear regression based mediation analysis, we investigated the underlying mechanisms for the effect of fluency on risk perception in more detail. Contrary to prior research, we find that affect, but not familiarity, mediates the fluency-risk link. Our findings suggest that a drug name's fluency is a powerful driver of dosing behavior.

Great Works: A Reciprocal Relationship Between Spatial Magnitudes and Aesthetic Judgment

Great Works: A Reciprocal Relationship Between Spatial Magnitudes and Aesthetic Judgment. Angelika Seidel and Jesse Prinz. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/317668868_Great_Works_A_Reciprocal_Relationship_Between_Spatial_Magnitudes_and_Aesthetic_Judgment

Abstract: Inspired by the work of the great aestheticians of the 1700s and modern psychological work in spatial cognition, we sought to test the bidirectional relationship between spatial magnitudes and aesthetic value. In a series of 5 experiments, we show that changing the size and position of a painting can impact judgments of its aesthetic value, and conversely. The same painting is believed to be larger when presented as a master artist's versus as a student's work (Experiment 1). Increasing the size of painting makes it seem better (Experiment 2). A painting presented as a master's work appears larger, closer, and better than when presented as a fake (Experiment 3). Master artists' paintings are recommended to be placed higher on the wall than students' paintings (Experiment 4). Finally, when hung high, a painting is judged better than when it is presented at eye level, and worse when it is presented below eye level (Experiment 5). Together these findings demonstrate a reciprocal relationship between the greatness of a work and its spatial position and scale.

Babies and math: A meta-analysis of infants’ simple arithmetic competence

Christodoulou, J., Lac, A., & Moore, D. S. (2017). Babies and math: A meta-analysis of infants’ simple arithmetic competence. Developmental Psychology, 53(8), 1405-1417.

Abstract: Wynn’s (1992) seminal research reported that infants looked longer at stimuli representing “incorrect” versus “correct” solutions of basic addition and subtraction problems and concluded that infants have innate arithmetical abilities. Since then, infancy researchers have attempted to replicate this effect, yielding mixed findings. The present meta-analysis aimed to systematically compile and synthesize all of the primary replications and extensions of Wynn (1992) that have been conducted to date. The synthesis included 12 studies consisting of 26 independent samples and 550 unique infants. The summary effect, computed using a random-effects model, was statistically significant, d = +0.34, p < .001, suggesting that the phenomenon Wynn originally reported is reliable. Five different tests of publication bias yielded mixed results, suggesting that while a moderate level of publication bias is probable, the summary effect would be positive even after accounting for this issue. Out of the 10 metamoderators tested, none were found to be significant, but most of the moderator subgroups were significantly different from a null effect. Although this meta-analysis provides support for Wynn’s original findings, further research is warranted to understand the underlying mechanisms responsible for infants’ visual preferences for “mathematically incorrect” test stimuli.