Saturday, September 30, 2017

Officials who aspire to higher office signal decisiveness by accelerating decisions, since voters prefer leaders with low costs of delay and little uncertainty

A Theory of Decisive Leadership. Douglas Bernheim and Aaron Bodoh-Creed. Stanford Working Paper, July 2017.

Abstract: We present a theory that rationalizes voters' preferences for decisive leaders. Greater decisiveness entails an inclination to reach decisions more quickly conditional on fixed information. Although speed can be good or bad, agency problems between voters and politicians create preferences among voters for leaders who perceive low costs of delay and have little uncertainty about idiosyncratic concerns, and hence who make decisions more rapidly than typical voters. Officials who aspire to higher office therefore signal decisiveness by accelerating decisions. In elections, candidates with reputations for greater decisiveness prevail despite making smaller compromises, and therefore earn larger rents from office holding.

We have much fewer cross-cultural nonverbal emotional vocalizations than primates

Human Non-linguistic Vocal Repertoire: Call Types and Their Meaning. Andrey Anikin, Rasmus Bååth, and Tomas Persson. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior,

Abstract: Recent research on human nonverbal vocalizations has led to considerable progress in our understanding of vocal communication of emotion. However, in contrast to studies of animal vocalizations, this research has focused mainly on the emotional interpretation of such signals. The repertoire of human nonverbal vocalizations as acoustic types, and the mapping between acoustic and emotional categories, thus remain underexplored. In a cross-linguistic naming task (Experiment 1), verbal categorization of 132 authentic (non-acted) human vocalizations by English-, Swedish- and Russian-speaking participants revealed the same major acoustic types: laugh, cry, scream, moan, and possibly roar and sigh. The association between call type and perceived emotion was systematic but non-redundant: listeners associated every call type with a limited, but in some cases relatively wide, range of emotions. The speed and consistency of naming the call type predicted the speed and consistency of inferring the caller’s emotion, suggesting that acoustic and emotional categorizations are closely related. However, participants preferred to name the call type before naming the emotion. Furthermore, nonverbal categorization of the same stimuli in a triad classification task (Experiment 2) was more compatible with classification by call type than by emotion, indicating the former’s greater perceptual salience. These results suggest that acoustic categorization may precede attribution of emotion, highlighting the need to distinguish between the overt form of nonverbal signals and their interpretation by the perceiver. Both within- and between-call acoustic variation can then be modeled explicitly, bringing research on human nonverbal vocalizations more in line with the work on animal communication.

Black elected officials had a punitive impact on imprisonment and policing

The Racial Politics of Mass Incarceration. John Clegg and Adaner Usmani. NYU Working Paper, February 2017.

Abstract: Dominant accounts of America's punitive turn assume that black elected officials and their constituents resisted higher levels of imprisonment and policing. We gather new data and find little support for this view. Panel regressions and an analysis of federally-mandated redistricting suggest that black elected officials had a punitive impact on imprisonment and policing. We corroborate this with public opinion and legislative data. Pooling 300,000 respondents to polls between 1955 and 2014, we find that blacks became substantially more punitive over this period, and were consistently more fearful of crime than whites. The punitive impact of black elected officials at the state and federal level was concentrated at the height of public punitiveness. In short, the racial politics of punishment are more complex than the conventional view allows. We find evidence that black elected officials and the black public were more likely than whites to support non-punitive policies, but conclude that they were constrained by the context in which they sought remedies from crime.

Keywords: crime, criminal justice, public opinion, race, mass incarceration

My commentary: Typical of the professoriat is to be surprised of this... Those who live in the middle of the daily bloodletting are retrograde because they support state repression against those who kill. They cannot see the motivation to support Duterte.

Addicted to Hate: Identity Residual among Former White Supremacists

Addicted to Hate: Identity Residual among Former White Supremacists. Pete Simi et al. American Sociological Review,

Abstract: The process of leaving deeply meaningful and embodied identities can be experienced as a struggle against addiction, with continuing cognitive, emotional, and physiological responses that are involuntary, unwanted, and triggered by environmental factors. Using data derived from a unique set of in-depth life history interviews with 89 former U.S. white supremacists, as well as theories derived from recent advances in cognitive sociology, we examine how a rejected identity can persist despite a desire to change. Disengagement from white supremacy is characterized by substantial lingering effects that subjects describe as addiction. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of identity residual for understanding how people leave and for theories of the self.

Fear vs. disgust as affective predictors of absolutist opposition to genetically modified food and other new technologies

What lies beneath? Fear vs. disgust as affective predictors of absolutist opposition to genetically modified food and other new technologies. Edward Royzman, Corey Cusimano, and Robert F. Leeman. Judgment and Decision Making, Vol. 12, No. 5, September 2017, pp. 466-480.

Abstract: In line with earlier research, a multi-phase study found a significant positive association between a widely used measure of trait disgust and people’s tendency to favor absolutist (non-consequentialist) restrictions on genetically modified food (GMF). However, a more nuanced high-granularity approach showed that it was individual sensitivity to fear (specifically, a tendency to feel creeped out by strange and subtly deviant events) rather than a tendency to be disgusted (orally inhibited) by these events that was a unique predictor of absolutist opposition to GMF and other types of new technology. This finding is consistent with prior theorizing and research demonstrating fear to be “the major determiner of public perception and acceptance of risk for a wide range of hazards” related to new technology (e.g., nuclear power) (Slovic & Peters, 2006, p. 322). The present study calls attention to the importance of conducting future assessments of disgust (and other affective constructs) in a manner that, among other things, recognizes the substantial disconnect between theoretical and lay meanings of the term and illustrates how a policy-guiding result may arise from a sheer miscommunication between a researcher and a subject.

Need, Compassion, and Support for Social Welfare -- We are more impressed by sudden reversals of fortune

Delton, A. W., Petersen, M. B., DeScioli, P. and Robertson, T. E. (2017), Need, Compassion, and Support for Social Welfare. Political Psychology. doi:10.1111/pops.12450

Abstract: Funding for social welfare depends on citizen support. Drawing on evolutionary psychological approaches to politics, we study two types of need that might shape citizens' welfare support by regulating their feelings of compassion. One type of need is a recipient's absolute need. The other type is acute need created by sudden misfortune, such as sudden job loss. Across four studies, we find that absolute and acute needs independently affect compassion and welfare attitudes. This leads to potential inefficiencies in judgments: People who have fallen far are judged more deserving of compassion and access to welfare even when they are not in an absolute sense the most impoverished.

My comment: We judge those who experience a sudden reversal of fortune more deserving of assistance, regardless of absolute need.

Accusing Others of Ethical Violations Increase Trust in Accuser, Promotes Relationship Conflict in the Group

Holding People Responsible of Ethical Violations: The Surprising Benefits of Accusing Others.
 Jessica A. Kennedy and Maurice E. Schweitzer.

Abstract: Individuals who accuse others of unethical behavior can derive significant benefits. Compared to individuals who do not make accusations, accusers engender greater trust and are perceived to have higher ethical standards. In Study 1, accusations increased trust in the accuser and lowered trust in the target. In Study 2, we find that accusations elevate trust in the accuser by boosting perceptions of the accuser’s ethical standards. In Study 3, we find that accusations boosted both attitudinal and behavioral trust in the accuser, decreased trust in the target, and promoted relationship conflict within the group. In Study 4, we examine the moderating role of moral hypocrisy. Compared to individuals who did not make an accusation, individuals who made an accusation were trusted more if they had acted ethically but not if they had acted unethically. Taken together, we find that accusations have significant interpersonal consequences. In addition to harming accused targets, accusations can substantially benefit accusers.

Keywords: Ethics; Ethical Violations; Accusations

Encountering ideological conflict reduces well-being and humanity-esteem. Agreement doesn't add positive emotions

Brandt, Mark J, Jarret Crawford, and Daryl Van Tongeren. 2017. “Worldview Conflict in Daily Life”. PsyArXiv. September 29. doi:10.1177/1948550617733517.

Abstract: Building on laboratory and survey-based research probing the psychology of ideology and the experience of worldview-conflict, we examined the association between worldview-conflict and emotional reactions, psychological well-being, humanity-esteem, and political ideology in everyday life using experience sampling. In three combined samples (Total N= 328), experiencing disagreement compared to agreement was associated with experiencing more other-condemning emotions, less well-being, and less humanity-esteem. There were no clear associations between experiencing disagreement and experiencing self-conscious emotions, positive emotions, and mental stress. None of the relationships were moderated by political ideology. These results both replicate and challenge findings from laboratory and survey-based research, and we discuss possible reasons for the discrepancies. Experience sampling methods can help researchers get a glimpse into everyday worldview-conflict.

Check also: Frimer, J. A., Skitka, L. J., & Motyl, M. (2017). Liberals and conservatives are similarly motivated to avoid exposure to one another’s opinions. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 72, 1–12.

Abstract : Ideologically committed people are similarly motivated to avoid ideologically crosscutting information. Although some previous research has found that political conservatives may be more prone to selective exposure than liberals are, we find similar selective exposure motives on the political left and right across a variety of issues. The majority of people on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate willingly gave up a chance to win money to avoid hearing from the other side (Study 1). When thinking back to the 2012 U.S. Presidential election (Study 2), ahead to upcoming elections in the U.S. and Canada (Study 3), and about a range of other Culture War issues (Study 4), liberals and conservatives reported similar aversion toward learning about the views of their ideological opponents. Their lack of interest was not due to already being informed about the other side or attributable election fatigue. Rather, people on both sides indicated that they anticipated that hearing from the other side would induce cognitive dissonance (e.g., require effort, cause frustration) and undermine a sense of shared reality with the person expressing disparate views (e.g., damage the relationship; Study 5). A high-powered meta-analysis of our data sets (N = 2417) did not detect a difference in the intensity of liberals’ (d = 0.63) and conservatives’ (d = 0.58) desires to remain in their respective ideological bubbles.

Keywords: selective exposure; confirmation bias; motivation; liberals and conservatives; ideological symmetry