Sunday, August 27, 2017

Anti-Profit Beliefs: How People Neglect the Societal Benefits of Profit

Anti-Profit Beliefs: How People Neglect the Societal Benefits of Profit. Amit Bhattacharjee, Jason Dana & Jonathan Baron. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,

Abstract: Profit-seeking firms are stereotypically depicted as immoral and harmful to society. At the same time, profit-driven enterprise has contributed immensely to human prosperity. Though scholars agree that profit can incentivize societally beneficial behaviors, people may neglect this possibility. In 7 studies, we show that people see business profit as necessarily in conflict with social good, a view we call anti-profit beliefs. Studies 1 and 2 demonstrate that U.S. participants hold anti-profit views of real U.S. firms and industries. Study 3 shows that hypothetical organizations are seen as doing more harm when they are labeled “for-profit” rather than “non-profit,” while Study 4 shows that increasing harm to society is viewed as a strategy for increasing a hypothetical firm’s long-run profitability. Studies 5–7 demonstrate that carefully prompting subjects to consider the long run incentives of profit can attenuate anti-profit beliefs, while prompting short run thinking does nothing relative to a control. Together, these results suggest that the default view of profits is zero-sum. While people readily grasp how profit can incentivize firms to engage in practices that harm others, they neglect how it can incentivize firms to engage in practices that benefit others. Accordingly, people’s stereotypes of profit-seeking firms are excessively negative. Even in one of the most market-oriented societies in history, people doubt the contributions of profit-seeking industry to societal progress.

Sectarianism and Social Conformity: Evidence from Egypt

Sectarianism and Social Conformity: Evidence from Egypt. Steven Brooke. Political Research Quarterly,

Abstract: Why might citizens adopt exaggerated public antagonism toward outgroups? When this is so, how much do public and private attitudes diverge? I argue that expanding exclusionary rhetoric against outgroups can create social pressures that incentivize ordinary citizens to adopt bigoted attitudes to avoid ostracism from their own majority community. Based on an investigation of Egypt during the Arab Spring, I identify the emergence and diffusion of a norm of discrimination against the country’s tiny Shi’a population. Under these conditions, a substantial portion of Sunni citizens adopted and countenanced anti-Shi’a bigotry not because they truly believed it, but rather because they feared the consequences of expressing public support for coexistence. A variety of qualitative evidence traces the growth of anti-Shi’a sentiment during this period, while original survey data show that over 80 percent of Sunni respondents openly expressed anti-Shi’a attitudes. Yet when asked about their attitudes via an item count technique, a method that grants a reprieve from social pressures, the percentage of respondents expressing discriminatory views toward the Shi’a dropped to just over 40 percent. One implication is that sectarian attitudes in the region are as much the product of malleable social and political pressures as deeply rooted preferences.

Biomarkers and Long-term Labour Market Outcomes: The Case of Creatine

Biomarkers and Long-term Labour Market Outcomes: The Case of Creatine. Petri Böckerman et al. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Volume 142, October 2017, Pages 259-274,

Abstract: Using the Young Finns Study (YFS) combined with the Finnish Linked Employer-Employee Data (FLEED) we show that quantities of creatine measured in 1980 prior to labour market entry affect labour market outcomes over the period 1990-2010. Those with higher levels of creatine (proxied by urine creatinine) prior to labour market entry spend more time in the labour market in the subsequent two decades and earn more. The associations between creatine and labour market outcomes are robust to controlling for other biomarkers, educational attainment and parental background. Creatine is a naturally occurring nitrogenous organic acid which supplies energy to body cells, including muscles. Our findings are consistent with high energy levels, induced by creatine, leading to productivity-enhancing traits such as a high propensity for effort, perseverance, and high-commitment.

My commentary: What should we do with this? Many people is not energetic enough, is weak and take too many leaves of absence on medical grounds... Should everybody, but specially we guys with physical power and strong orientation to success and commitment to the companies and customers, contribute part of our paychecks to compensate for that part of the population who cannot work with our dedication but there is no possibility of cheating on us or riding free on us (because blood tests are objective indicators)? Like insurance for body weakness... I don't like much the idea, but it is true that a lot of people go to the workplace as if it were a jail in which to be punished and clearly it is not their fault in most cases. They got physical issues (like less creatine).

Maybe we guys with great work enjoyment could compensate the guys with less capability to put more effort with some cash rewards taken from our paychecks to make things even for them.

The companies could pay differentially those of us with more drive (paying us a bit less) and putting the money in a fund from where to pay those who are sick frequently, making their earnings "holes" shorter, smaller, thru their labor lives.If guys with less energy take leaves of absence for 15-30pct of their work life, missing totally or partially some years of work and earning less accordingly, the fund could make that hole much shorter and less deep, let's say 10pct of the work life.

Those extra years of earnings similar to those when they were full employees (adding payments to their disability paychecks so that they earn in semi-retirement the same than we healthy guys) make also for greater contributions to their pensions.

We should be able to make the calculations to know how much we'd need to give to such fund.

The Effect of a Supreme Court Decision Regarding Gay Marriage on Social Norms and Personal Attitudes

The Effect of a Supreme Court Decision Regarding Gay Marriage on Social Norms and Personal Attitudes. Margaret Tankard and Elizabeth Levy Paluck. Psychological Science,

Abstract: We propose that institutions such as the U.S. Supreme Court can lead individuals to update their perceptions of social norms, in contrast to the mixed evidence on whether institutions shape individuals' personal opinions. We studied reactions to the June 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. In a controlled experimental setting, we found that a favorable ruling, when presented as likely, shifted perceived norms and personal attitudes toward increased support for gay marriage and gay people. Next, a five-wave longitudinal time-series study using a sample of 1,063 people found an increase in perceived social norms supporting gay marriage after the ruling ***but no change in personal attitudes***. This pattern was replicated in a separate between-subjects data set. These findings provide the first experimental evidence that an institutional decision can change perceptions of social norms, which have been shown to guide behavior, even when individual opinions are unchanged.
The Effect of Violent Crime on Economic Mobility. Patrick Sharkey and Gerard Torrats-Espinosa
Journal of Urban Economics, Volume 102, November 2017, Pages 22-33,

Abstract: Recent evidence has found substantial geographic variation in the level of upward economic mobility across US states, metropolitan areas, commuting zones, and counties. However, minimal progress has been made in identifying the key mechanisms that help explain why some urban areas have low rates of upward mobility while others have rates of upward mobility that resemble the most mobile nations in the developed world. In this article we focus attention on one specific dimension of urban areas, the level of violent crime. Using longitudinal data and an array of empirical approaches, we find strong evidence that the level of violent crime in a county has a causal effect on the level of upward economic mobility among individuals raised in families at the 25th percentile of the income distribution. We find that a one standard deviation decline in violent crime as experienced during late adolescence increases the expected income rank in adulthood by at least 2 points. Similarly, a one standard deviation decline in the murder rate increases the expected income rank by roughly 1.5 points. These effect sizes are statistically and economically significant. Although we are limited in our capacity to provide evidence on the mechanisms explaining the link between crime and mobility, we present suggestive results showing that the decline in the violent crime rate reduced the prevalence of high school dropouts at the county level between 1990 and 2010.

My comment: It seems that pure repression of those who behave bad (police and judicial repression) would make many areas more mobile. Take that in consideration... We oppress a very, very small part of the population, those too violent, putting them in prison until old in larger numbers than now, and the lives of the least upwardly mobile 20pct of the population can be as mobile as that of the more safe areas... What should we do?

Approx translation to Spanish:

Se han encontrado pruebas recientes en el estudio del estudio de los efectos de las áreas metropolitanas sobre el medio ambiente. Sin embargo, se han logrado avances mínimos en la identificación de los mecanismos clave del futuro. En este artículo centramos la atención en una dimensión específica de las áreas urbanas, el nivel de delitos violentos. Usando datos longitudinales y una serie de enfoques empíricos, encontramos una manera de determinar el nivel del crimen. Encontramos que esta es una de las causas más comunes de la enfermedad. A, a, a, a, a, a, estándar, tasa, Estos efectos son estadísticamente y económicamente significativos. Aunque no somos conscientes del hecho de que este es el caso, no es el caso que el problema es el mismo.

Mi comentario: Parece que la pura represión
sobre aquellos que se comportan mal (represión policial y judicial) haría que muchas más áreas tuviesen más mobilidad social. Tomemos esto en consideración ... oprimimos una muy, muy pequeña parte de la población, los muy violentos, poniéndolos en prisión hasta la vejez en mayores n-umeros que ahora, y las vidas del 20pct de menor mobilidad de la población puede ser tan móvil como la de las áreas más seguras ... ¿Qué debemos hacer?

Anger Promotes Economic Conservatism

Anger Promotes Economic Conservatism. Keri Kettle and Anthony Salerno. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,

Abstract: Research suggests that certain facets of people’s political ideals can be motivated by different goals. Although it is widely accepted that emotions motivate goal-directed behavior, less is known about how emotion-specific goals may influence different facets of ideology. In this research, we examine how anger affects political ideology and through what mechanisms such effects occur. Drawing on the dual-process motivational model of ideology and the functionalist perspective of emotion, we propose that anger leads people to support conservative economic ideals, which promote economic independence and discourage societal resource sharing. Four studies support our hypothesis that anger can enhance support for an election candidate espousing conservative economic ideals. We find that anger shifts people toward economic conservatism by orienting them toward competition for resources. Implications and future research on the relationship between emotions and political ideology are discussed.

Assessing the accuracy of perceptions of intelligence based on heritable facial features

Assessing the accuracy of perceptions of intelligence based on heritable facial features. Anthony J.Lee et al. Intelligence, vol. 64, September–October 2017, Pages 1-8,

•    The accuracy of intelligence perceptions was assessed in a large sample of twins.
•    Intelligence judgements based on facial images significantly correlated with IQ.
•    Both stable and transitory facial cues were associated with perceived intelligence.
•    Stable face traits mediated the relationship between perceived intelligence and IQ.
•    Perceived intelligence and IQ share a familial (genetic and/or environmental) source of variance.

Abstract: Perceptions of intelligence based on facial features can have a profound impact on many social situations, but findings have been mixed as to whether these judgements are accurate. Even if such perceptions were accurate, the underlying mechanism is unclear. Several possibilities have been proposed, including evolutionary explanations where certain morphological facial features are associated with fitness-related traits (including cognitive development), or that intelligence judgements are over-generalisation of cues of transitory states that can influence cognition (e.g., tiredness). Here, we attempt to identify the morphological signals that individuals use to make intelligence judgements from facial photographs. In a genetically informative sample of 1660 twins and their siblings, we measured IQ and also perceptions of intelligence based on facial photographs. We found that intelligence judgements were associated with both stable morphological facial traits (face height, interpupillary distance, and nose size) and more transitory facial cues (eyelid openness, and mouth curvature). There was a significant association between perceived intelligence and measured IQ, but of the specific facial attributes only interpupillary distance (i.e., wide-set eyes) significantly mediated this relationship. We also found evidence that perceived intelligence and measured IQ share a familial component, though we could not distinguish between genetic and shared environmental sources.

More education reduces religiosity, religious acts and superstitious beliefs

Compulsory Schooling Laws and Formation of Beliefs: Education, Religion and Superstition. Naci Mocan, Luiza Pogorelov. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization,

•    Micro data are used, in conjunction with schooling reforms implemented in 14 European countries.
•    Exposure to the mandate of the education reform is used as an instrument for years of schooling.
•    The impact of education on religiosity, and on social as well as solitary religious acts are analyzed.
•    The impact of education on superstitious beliefs is analyzed.
•    More education, due to the reforms, reduces religiosity, religious acts and superstitious beliefs.

Abstract: We exploit information on compulsory schooling reforms in 14 European countries, implemented mostly in the 1960s and 70s, to identify the impact of education on religious adherence and religious practices. Using micro data from the European Social Survey, conducted in various years between 2002 and 2013, we find consistently negative effects of schooling on religiosity, social religious acts (attending religious services), as well as solitary religious acts (the frequency of praying). We also use data from European Values Survey to apply the same empirical design to analyze the impact of schooling on superstitious beliefs. We find that more education, due to increased mandatory years of schooling, reduces individuals’ propensity to believe in the power of lucky charms and the tendency to take into account horoscopes in daily life.

Keywords: Education; Secularism; Horoscope; Praying; Europe; Reform

Check also: The Future of Secularism: A Biologically Informed Theory Supplemented with Cross-Cultural Evidence. Lee Ellis et al. Evolutionary Psychological Science, September 2017, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 224–242,

People attributed more free will to morally good actions than morally neutral ones

Are morally good actions ever free? Cory J Clark et al.

Abstract: A large body of work has demonstrated that people ascribe more responsibility to morally bad actions than both morally good and morally neutral ones, creating the impression that people do not attribute responsibility to morally good actions. The present work demonstrates that this is not so: People attributed more free will to morally good actions than morally neutral ones (Studies 1a-1b). Studies 2a-2b distinguished the underlying motives for ascribing responsibility to morally good and bad actions. Free will ascriptions for morally bad actions were driven predominantly by affective punitive responses. Free will judgments for morally good actions were similarly driven by affective reward responses, but also less affectively-charged and more pragmatic considerations (the perceived utility of reward, normativity of the action, and willpower required to perform the action). Responsibility ascriptions to morally good actions may be more carefully considered, leading to generally weaker, but more contextually-sensitive free will judgments.