Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Can we change our biased minds?

Can we change our biased minds? Michael Gross. Current Biology, Volume 27, Issue 20, 23 October 2017, Pages R1089–R1091. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2017.10.013

Summary: A simple test taken by millions of people reveals that virtually everybody has implicit biases that they are unaware of and that may clash with their explicit beliefs. From policing to scientific publishing, all activities that deal with people are at risk of making wrong decisions due to bias. Raising awareness is the first step towards improving the outcomes.

Check this: Dispelling the Myth: Training in Education or Neuroscience Decreases but Does Not Eliminate Beliefs in Neuromyths. Kelly Macdonald et al. Frontiers in Psychology, Aug 10 2017. http://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2017/08/training-in-education-or-neuroscience.html

And: Wisdom and how to cultivate it: Review of emerging evidence for a constructivist model of wise thinking. Igor Grossmann. European Psychologist, in press. Pre-print: http://www.bipartisanalliance.com/2017/08/wisdom-and-how-to-cultivate-it-review.html

Nearly 80% of the reported effects in empirical economics literatures are exaggerated, typically by a factor of two

Ioannidis, J. P. A., Stanley, T. D. and Doucouliagos, H. (2017), The Power of Bias in Economics Research. Econ J, 127: F236–F265. doi:10.1111/ecoj.12461

Abstract: We investigate two critical dimensions of the credibility of empirical economics research: statistical power and bias. We survey 159 empirical economics literatures that draw upon 64,076 estimates of economic parameters reported in more than 6,700 empirical studies. Half of the research areas have nearly 90% of their results under-powered. The median statistical power is 18%, or less. A simple weighted average of those reported results that are adequately powered (power ≥ 80%) reveals that nearly 80% of the reported effects in these empirical economics literatures are exaggerated; typically, by a factor of two and with one-third inflated by a factor of four or more.

Pairs in which the partners do not share a social bond with each other behave less ethically than individuals do

Stranger Danger: When and Why Consumer Dyads Behave Less Ethically Than Individuals. Hristina Nikolova Cait Lamberton Nicole Verrochi Coleman. Journal of Consumer Research, ucx108, https://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucx108

Abstract: While joint ethical violations are fairly common in the marketplace, workplace, sports teams, and academic settings, little research has studied such collaborative wrongdoings. This work compares the joint ethical decisions of pairs of people (i.e., dyads) to those of individual decision-makers. Four experiments demonstrate that dyads in which the partners do not share a social bond with each other behave less ethically than individuals do. The authors propose that this effect occurs because joint ethical violations offer a means to socially bond with others. Consistent with this theory, they demonstrate that the dyads’ sub-ethicality relative to individuals is attenuated (1) if the dyad partners establish rapport prior to the joint decision-making, and (2) in decision-making contexts in which social bonding goals are less active, that making a decision with an out-group versus in-group member. Taken together, this research provides novel theoretical insights into the social aspects of unethical behavior, offers suggestions to improve ethicality in joint decisions, and raises important questions for future research.

Keywords: unethical decisions, cheating, ethical, dyads, joint decision-making, social bonding

Smaller & less centralized schools, & schools with fewer poor students, foster social capital that builds labor market networks, as does a larger Republican vote share

Social Capital and Labor Market Networks. Brian J. Asquith, Judith K. Hellerstein, Mark J. Kutzbach, David Neumark. NBER Working Paper No. 23959, www.nber.org/papers/w23959

Abstract: We explore the links between social capital and labor market networks at the neighborhood level. We harness rich data taken from multiple sources, including matched employer-employee data with which we measure the strength of labor market networks, data on behavior such as voting patterns that have previously been tied to social capital, and new data – not previously used in the study of social capital – on the number and location of non-profits at the neighborhood level. We use a machine learning algorithm to identify potential social capital measures that best predict neighborhood-level variation in labor market networks. We find evidence suggesting that smaller and less centralized schools, and schools with fewer poor students, foster social capital that builds labor market networks, as does a larger Republican vote share. The presence of establishments in a number of non-profit oriented industries are identified as predictive of strong labor market networks, likely because they either provide public goods or facilitate social contacts. These industries include, for example, churches and other religious institutions, schools, country clubs, and amateur or recreational sports teams or clubs.

How Ethically Would Americans and Chinese Negotiate? The Effect of Intra-Cultural Versus Inter-Cultural Negotiations

Yang, Yu and De Cremer, David and Wang, Chao, How Ethically Would Americans and Chinese Negotiate? The Effect of Intra-Cultural Versus Inter-Cultural Negotiations (November 22, 2016). Journal of Business Ethics, Forthcoming. https://ssrn.com/abstract=2874335

Abstract: A growing body of research has started to examine how individuals from different countries may differ in their use of ethically questionable tactics during business negotiations. Whereas prior research focused on the main effect of the national culture or nationality of the negotiator, we add a new factor, which is the nationality of the counterpart. Looking at both these variables allows us to examine whether and how people may change their likelihood of using ethically questionable tactics in inter-cultural negotiations as opposed to intra-cultural ones. Results of an experiment (N = 810) show that overall, American participants were less likely than Chinese participants to use ethically questionable tactics in negotiations. However, American participants were more likely to use ethically questionable tactics, particularly those related to false promises and inappropriate information gathering, in inter-cultural negotiations with Chinese counterparts, than in intra-cultural negotiations with American counterparts. By contrast, Chinese participants were less likely to use ethically questionable tactics, particularly those related to false promises and attacking opponent’s network, in inter-cultural negotiations with American counterparts, than in intra-cultural negotiations with Chinese counterparts. Implications and future directions are discussed.

Are People More Disturbed by Dog or Human Suffering?

Are People More Disturbed by Dog or Human Suffering? Levin, Jack and Arluke, Arnold and Irvine, Leslie. Society & Animals, Vol 25, issue 1, pages 1-16, year 2017, https://doi.org/10.1163/15685306-12341440

Abstract: This research examines whether people are more emotionally disturbed by reports of non-human animal than human suffering or abuse. Two hundred and fifty-six undergraduates at a major northeastern university were asked to indicate their degree of empathy for a brutally beaten human adult or child versus an adult dog or puppy, as described in a fictitious news report. We hypothesized that the vulnerability of victims—determined by their age and not species—would determine participants’ levels of distress and concern for them. The main effect for age but not for species was significant. We also found more empathy for victims who are human children, puppies, and fully-grown dogs than for victims who are adult humans. Age makes a difference for empathy toward human victims, but not for dog victims. In addition, female participants were significantly more empathic toward all victims than were their male counterparts.

Keywords: dogs; victims; empathy; age; vulnerability; emotional distress; suffering

The High Cost of Being Cool: How Adolescent Pseudomature Behavior Maps onto Adult Adjustment

The Cost of Being Cool: How Adolescent Pseudomature Behavior Maps onto Adult Adjustment. Leslie Gordon Simons et al. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10964-017-0743-z

Abstract: During adolescence, one's status among peers is a major concern. Such status is often largely a function of popularity and establishing oneself as “cool.” While there are conventional avenues to achieving status among adolescents, engaging in adult-like, or pseudomature, behaviors such as substance use or sexual activity is a frequent occurrence. Although past research has examined the consequences of adolescent delinquency, what remains unclear is the long-term fate of adolescents who are both popular and antisocial. Using data from a sample of African American males (N = 339) we employ latent class analysis to examine the adult consequences of achieving popularity during adolescence by engaging in pseudomature behavior. Our results identified four classes of adolescents: the conventionals, the pseudomatures, the delinquents, and the detached. The conventionals were low on popularity, pseudomature behavior, and affiliation with deviant peers but high on academic commitment. The pseudomatures were high on popularity, adult-like behavior, and academic commitment but low on affiliation with delinquent peers. The delinquents were low on popularity and school achievement but high on pseudomature behavior and affiliations with delinquent peers. Finally, the detached were low on school commitment, popularity and pseudomature behavior but they report high involvement with a delinquent peer group. By early adulthood, the costs of adolescent adult-like behavior were evident. Early popularity and academic commitment did not portend later social competence or college completion for the pseudomatures. Instead, they frequently experienced an early transition to parenthood, a likely consequence of precocious sexual activity. These findings suggest that interventions should not focus only on the most delinquent adolescents but also need to attend to the pseudomature students who are brimming with promise but are flirting with behaviors that may subvert realization of this potential.

The Relationship between Status and Happiness: Evidence from the Caste System in Rural India

The Relationship between Status and Happiness: Evidence from the Caste System in Rural India. By Bert van Landeghem, Anneleen Vandeplas. Institute of Labor Economics (IZA). IZA Discussion Papers #11099, October 2017. http://legacy.iza.org/en/webcontent/publications/papers/viewAbstract?dp_id=11099

Abstract: A large number of empirical studies have investigated the link between social status and happiness, yet in observational data identification challenges remain severe. This study exploits the fact that in India people are assigned a caste from birth. Two identical surveys of household heads (each with N=1000) in rural Punjab and Andhra Pradesh show an increasing pattern in economic welfare across the hierarchy of castes. This illustrates that at least in rural regions, one's caste is still an important determinant for opportunities in life. Subsequently, we find that the castes at the top are clearly more satisfied than the lower and middle castes. This result, which is in line with predictions of all major social comparison theories, is robust across the two case studies. The pattern across low and middle castes, however, is less clear, reflecting the complex theoretical relationship between being of middle rank on the one hand, and behaviour, aspirations and well-being on the other hand. In the Punjab sample, we even find a significant U-shape, the middle castes being the least happy. Interestingly, these patterns resemble those found for Olympic Medalists (first documented by Medvec et al. 1995).

Resting heart rate and psychopathy seem not related: Findings from the Add Health Survey

Resting heart rate and psychopathy: Findings from the Add Health Survey. Nicholas Kavish et al. Available at bioRxiv, http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/205005

Abstract : Despite the large body of research linking low resting heart rate to antisocial behavior broadly, significantly less work has been done linking heart rate to psychopathic traits. The small body of research on the topic that has been conducted, has found an overall inverse relationship between the two constructs. A significant minority of studies have found the opposite results, however, and many prior studies have been limited by small sample sizes and unrepresentative samples. The current study attempts to help clarify the relationship between resting heart rate and psychopathic traits in a large, nationally representative sample using an alternative measure of psychopathic traits that is less focused on antisocial processes. No significant relationship between heart rate and psychopathic traits, or heart rate and a measure of cold heartedness, was found after controlling for age, sex, and race. Implications of the findings, study limitations, and directions for future research are discussed. 

Despite being in vegetative state, some patients retain some aspects of emotional experience, react to jokes

Using facial electromyography to detect preserved emotional processing in disorders of consciousness: A proof-of-principle study. Chris M.Fiacconi, Adrian M.Owen. Clinical Neurophysiology, Volume 127, Issue 9, September 2016, Pages 3000-3006. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clinph.2016.06.006

•    A vegetative state patient can show intact emotional responses as measured by facial muscle activity.
•    Responses in a VS patient mirrored the pattern of muscle activity observed in healthy controls.
•    This methodology may serve as a feasible bedside tool to probe emotion in VS patients.


Objective: To examine whether emotional functioning can be observed in patients who are behaviourally non-responsive using peripheral markers of emotional functioning.

Method: We tested two patients, both diagnosed as being in a vegetative state (VS) following hypoxia secondary to cardiac arrest. Thirty-seven healthy participants with no history of neurological illness served as a control group. The activity of two facial muscles (zygomaticus major, corrugator supercilii) was measured using facial electromyography (EMG) to probe for patterned responses that differentiate between auditorily presented joke and non-joke stimuli in VS patients.

Results: One of the two VS patients we tested demonstrated greater zygomatic and reduced corrugator activity in response to jokes compared with non-jokes. Critically, these responses followed the pattern and temporal profile of muscle activity observed in our healthy control sample.

Conclusions: Despite their behaviorally non-responsive profile, some patients diagnosed as VS appear to retain some aspects of emotional experience.

Significance: Our findings represent, to our knowledge, the first demonstration that a patient diagnosed as VS can exhibit intact emotional responses to humor as assessed by facial EMG. Therefore, our approach may constitute a feasible bedside tool capable of providing novel insight into the mental and emotional lives of patients who are behaviourally non-responsive.

Keywords: Disorders of consciousness; Vegetative state; Emotion; Facial electromyography