Sunday, October 8, 2017

Learning the Ropes: General Experience, Task-Specific Experience, and the Output of Police Officers

Learning the Ropes: General Experience, Task-Specific Experience, and the Output of Police Officers. Gregory DeAngelo and Emily Owens. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Volume 142, October 2017, Pages 368-377.

•    Disentangle general from task-specific performance for law enforcement.
•    Use quasi-exogenous shocks in the form of law changes to identify impact of experience on productivity.
•    Productivity shocks in the form of a reduction in enforcement are largest for newer law enforcement.
•    We identify a systematic disparity in the likelihood a citation is issued based on experience and legal changes.

Abstract: We estimate the role that law enforcement officer experience has on the probability of punishment, using a unique data set of tickets issued by the Idaho State Police linked to human resource records. All else equal, officers issue fewer tickets earlier in their career than later in their career. Quasi-exogenous shocks to an officer’s task-specific experience, generated by law changes, cause a temporary reduction in the frequency with which a subset of troopers “use” those laws, creating disparities in the likelihood that individual citizens are cited for law violations. The reduction in ticketing in response to a law change is largest for newer troopers, and law changes later in a trooper’s career have a smaller effect on his use of that law.

Impacts of nature imagery on people in severely nature-deprived environments

Impacts of nature imagery on people in severely nature-deprived environments. Nalini Nadkarni et al. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, September 2017, Pages 395–403.

Abstract: An estimated 5.3 million Americans live or work in nature-deprived venues such as prisons, homeless shelters, and mental hospitals. Such removal from nature can result in an “extinction of experience” that can further lead to disinterest or disaffection toward natural settings, or even biophobia (fear of the natural environment). People who infrequently – or never – spend time in nature will be deprived of the numerous physical and emotional benefits that contact with nature affords. We report on the effects of vicarious nature experiences (nature videos) provided to maximum-security prison inmates for one year, and compared their emotions and behaviors to inmates who were not offered such videos. Inmates who watched nature videos reported feeling significantly calmer, less irritable, and more empathetic, and committed 26% fewer violent infractions as compared to those who did not watch the videos. Prison staff corroborated these findings. This research reinforces the value of nature exposure as a powerful tool not only for corrections administrators, but also for urban planners and policy makers, to promote socially desirable behaviors.

Winning hearts & minds (!): The dilemma of foreign aid in anti-Americanism

Winning hearts & minds (!): The dilemma of foreign aid in anti-Americanism. Efe Tokdemir. Journal of Peace Research,

Abstract: Foreign aid is a policy tool implemented with the purpose of fostering both hard and soft power abroad. Yet, previous research has not probed the effects of US foreign aid on public attitudes toward the US in the recipient countries. In this article, I argue that US foreign aid may actually feed anti-Americanism: aid indirectly creates winners and losers in the recipient countries, such that politically discontented people may blame the US for the survival of the prevailing regime. Drawing on Pew Research for Global Attitudes and on USAID Greenbook datasets, I focus on determining both the conditions under which foreign aid exacerbates anti-Americanism and the type of aid most likely to do this. The findings reveal that political losers of the recipient countries are more likely to express negative attitudes toward the USA as the amount of US aid increases, whereas political winners enjoy the results of US aid and view the USA positively accordingly. Moreover, the effect of US aid on attitudes toward the USA is also conditional on the regime type. While US aid increases the likelihood of anti-American attitudes among the losers in non-democratic countries, it decreases the likelihood of anti-Americanism among the losers in democratic ones. This article has important implications for policy in terms of determining how and to whom to provide aid in the context of the possible ramifications of providing aid at the individual level.

Beware of statistics -- Intrinsic Motivation and Performance: Jewish-American Soldiers in World War II

Intrinsic Motivation and Performance: Jewish-American Soldiers in World War II. Caio Waisman. Stanford Working Paper, June 2017,

Abstract: This paper assesses the potential influence of intrinsic motivation on individuals’ performance in the context of Jewish-American soldiers in World War II. In particular, it analyzes whether these soldiers performed differently when combating Germans as opposed to Japanese. Using medals, length of service, and medals per length of service as measures of performance and exploring a difference-in-differences empirical strategy, it finds that Jewish soldiers on average would have received fewer medals had they fought in Europe instead of the Pacific. This effect is driven by the length of service, as Jewish soldiers in Europe on average would have perished three months sooner than the ones in the Pacific. As a consequence, there is no differential effect on the number of medals received by month of service. These findings suggest that Jewish-American soldiers could have been excessively incentivized, which led them to more reckless behavior in combat and an earlier death.

Persuasion and Predation: The Effects of U.S. Military Aid and International Development Aid on Civilian Killings

Persuasion and Predation: The Effects of U.S. Military Aid and International Development Aid on Civilian Killings. Amira Jadoon. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism,

Abstract: Powerful states frequently employ foreign aid to pursue international security objectives. Yet aid's effectiveness will be undermined if it exacerbates the effects of conflict on civilians within recipient states. This article investigates how international development aid and U.S. military aid influence recipient governments' incentives and ability to target civilians. U.S. military aid has a persuasion effect on state actors, which decreases a recipient state's incentives and necessity to target civilians. Development aid flows, however, trigger a predation effect in some environments, exacerbating civilian targeting. An analysis of aid flows in 135 countries on civilian killings between 1989–2011 provides support for both the persuasion and predation effects associated with aid.

My commentary: We have no idea of what the incentives to target civilians are, and how to diminish those incentives. Any idea is welcome.

High intelligence: A risk factor for psychological and physiological overexcitabilities

High intelligence: A risk factor for psychological and physiological overexcitabilities. Ruth I. Karpinski et al. Intelligence,

•    A potential association between a hyperbrain (high IQ) and a hyperbody was examined.
•    Those with high IQ had higher risk for psychological disorders (RR 1.20 - 223.08).
•    High IQ was associated with higher risk for physiological diseases (RR 1.84 - 4.33).
•    Findings lend substantial support to a hyper brain/hyper body theory.

Abstract: High intelligence is touted as being predictive of positive outcomes including educational success and income level. However, little is known about the difficulties experienced among this population. Specifically, those with a high intellectual capacity (hyper brain) possess overexcitabilities in various domains that may predispose them to certain psychological disorders as well as physiological conditions involving elevated sensory, and altered immune and inflammatory responses (hyper body). The present study surveyed members of American Mensa, Ltd. (n = 3715) in order to explore psychoneuroimmunological (PNI) processes among those at or above the 98th percentile of intelligence. Participants were asked to self-report prevalence of both diagnosed and/or suspected mood and anxiety disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and physiological diseases that include environmental and food allergies, asthma, and autoimmune disease. High statistical significance and a remarkably high relative risk ratio of diagnoses for all examined conditions were confirmed among the Mensa group 2015 data when compared to the national average statistics. This implicates high IQ as being a potential risk factor for affective disorders, ADHD, ASD, and for increased incidence of disease related to immune dysregulation. Preliminary findings strongly support a hyper brain/hyper body association which may have substantial individual and societal implications and warrants further investigation to best identify and serve this at-risk population.