Saturday, November 11, 2017

Decline in US states' capital tax rates is due to synchronous responses to common shocks rather than competitive responses to other state's tax policy

Tax competition among U.S. states: Racing to the bottom or riding on a seesaw? Robert Chirinko and Daniel Wilson. Journal of Public Economics, Volume 155, November 2017, Pages 147-163.

•    The reaction in a given U.S. state to capital tax changes in other states is analyzed.
•    The reaction function slope is negative, contrary to casual evidence and many prior studies.
•    Allowing for delayed reactions and heterogeneous responses to aggregate shocks is crucial.
•    Our empirical results suggest frequently-used static tax competition models are misspecified.
•    Rather than “racing to the bottom,” our findings suggest states are “riding on a seesaw”.

Abstract: Dramatic declines in capital tax rates among U.S. states and European countries have been linked by many commentators to tax competition, an inevitable "race to the bottom," and underprovision of local public goods. This paper analyzes the reaction of capital tax policy in a given U.S. state to changes in capital tax policy by other states. Our study is undertaken with a novel panel data set covering the 48 contiguous U.S. states for the period 1965 to 2006 and is guided by the theory of strategic tax competition. The latter suggests that capital tax policy is a function of "foreign" (out-of-state) tax policy, preferences for government services, home state and foreign state economic and demographic conditions. The slope of the reaction function - the equilibrium response of home state to foreign state tax policy - is negative, contrary to casual evidence and many prior empirical studies of fiscal reaction functions. This result, which stands in contrast to most published findings, is due to two critical elements that allow for delayed responses to foreign tax changes and responses to aggregate shocks. Omitting either of these elements leads to a misspecified model and a positively sloped reaction function. Our results suggest that the secular decline in capital tax rates, at least among U.S. states, reflects synchronous responses among states to common shocks rather than competitive responses to foreign state tax policy. While striking given prior empirical findings, these results are fully consistent with the implications of the theoretical model developed in this paper and presented elsewhere in the literature. Rather than "racing to the bottom," our findings suggest that states are "riding on a seesaw." Consequently, tax competition may lead to an increase in the provision of local public goods, and policies aimed at restricting tax competition to stem the tide of declining capital taxation are likely to be ineffective.

Desirability of Narcissism: The Young Find It More Appealing, Less Undesirable

Age Differences in the Desirability of Narcissism. Kathy R. Berenson, William D. Ellison, and Rachel Clasing. Journal of Individual Differences (2017), 38, pp. 230-240.

Abstract. Young adult narcissism has been the focus of much discussion in the personality literature and popular press. Yet no previous studies have addressed whether there are age differences in the relative desirability of narcissistic and non-narcissistic self-descriptions, such as those presented as answer choices on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI; Raskin & Hall, 1979). In Study 1, younger age was associated with less negative evaluations of narcissistic (vs. non-narcissistic) statements in general, and more positive evaluations of narcissistic statements conveying leadership/authority. In Study 2, age was unrelated to perceiving a fictional target person as narcissistic, but younger age was associated with more positive connotations for targets described with narcissistic statements and less positive connotations for targets described with non-narcissistic statements, in terms of the inferences made about the target’s altruism, conscientiousness, social status, and self-esteem. In both studies, age differences in the relative desirability of narcissism remained statistically significant when adjusting for participants’ own narcissism, and the NPI showed measurement invariance across age. Despite perceiving narcissism similarly, adults of different ages view the desirability of NPI answer choices differently. These results are important when interpreting cross-generational differences in NPI scores, and can potentially facilitate cross-generational understanding.

Keywords: narcissism, modesty, age, measurement invariance, Narcissistic Personality Inventory

Smartphone-tracking data & precinct-level voting data show that politically-divided families shortened Thanksgiving dinners by 20-30 minutes following the 2016 election

M. Keith Chen and Ryne Rohla. “Politics Gets Personal: Effects of Political Partisanship and Advertising on Family Ties.” 2017 (Under Review).

Abstract: Research on growing American political polarization and antipathy primarily studies effects on public institutions and political processes, ignoring private effects such as damaged family ties. Using smartphone-tracking data and precinct-level voting, we show that politically-divided families shortened Thanksgiving dinners by 20-30 minutes following the divisive 2016 election. This decline survives comparisons with 2015 and extensive demographic and spatial controls, and more than doubles in media markets with heavy political advertising. These effects appear asymmetric: while Democratic voters traveled less in 2016, political differences shortened Thanksgiving dinners more among Republican voters, especially where political advertising was heaviest. Partisan polarization may degrade close family ties with large aggregate implications; we estimate 27 million person-hours of cross-partisan Thanksgiving discourse were lost in 2016 to ad-fueled partisan effects.

One Sentence Summary: Cell-tracking shows that mixed-party families had shorter 2016 Thanksgivings, an effect exacerbated by political advertising.

The left part of the brain is crucial in the construction of novel representations by integrating memory content in new ways and supporting executively demanding mental simulations

To create or to recall original ideas: Brain processes associated with the imagination of novel object uses. Mathias Benedek et al. Cortex,

Abstract: This fMRI study investigated what brain processes contribute to the generation of new ideas. Brain activation was measured while participants generated new original object uses, recalled original object uses, or recalled common object uses. Post-scan evaluations were used to confirm what ideas were newly generated on the spot or actually retrieved from memory. When compared to the recall of common ideas, the generation of new and old original ideas showed a similar activation pattern including activation of bilateral parahippocampal and mPFC regions, suggesting that the construction of new ideas builds on similar processes like the reconstruction of original ideas from episodic memory. As a difference, the generation of new object uses involved higher activation of a focused cluster in the left supramarginal gyrus compared to the recall of original ideas. This finding adds to the converging evidence that the left supramarginal gyrus is crucially involved in the construction of novel representations, potentially by integrating memory content in new ways and supporting executively demanding mental simulations. This study deepens our understanding of how creative thought builds on and goes beyond memory.

Keywords: fMRI; creativity; memory; SMG; inferior parietal cortex; medial temporal lobe

The origins of social conservatism: an extended twin family study using self- and peer-reports

The origins of social conservatism: an extended twin family study using self- and peer-reports. Edward Bell et al. Behavior Genetics Association 47th Annual Meeting Abstracts (2017).

Abstract: It has long been recognized that social conservatism forms an important part of people’s political orientations. This study examines key genetic and environmental sources of individual differences in this trait, using data taken from a German sample that included twins, their parents, and their spouses, and which incorporated both self- and peer-reports. The extended twin family design we used allowed for the examination of various aspects of social conservatism, such as: the effects of assortative mating and passive genotype-environment correlation; shared environmental influences originating from mothers only, fathers only, and both together; and non-parental environmental effects shared by twins. A comparison of self-report with peer-report findings indicated that although sex and age differences in social conservatism were comparable across the two rater perspectives, model analyses based on self-reports yielded substantially higher estimates of heritability, as well as higher levels of shared parental environmental influences, assortative mating, and genotype-environment correlation. These results, in particular the higher levels of heritability derived from self-report data, have important implications for how we understand social conservatism.

Sexual insults are linked to narcissistic, non-compliant and misanthropic character, & to socially repugnant behavior like bullying & intimate partner violence

Hyatt, Courtland, Jessica L Maples-Keller, Chelsea Sleep, Donald Lynam, and Josh Miller. 2017. “The Anatomy of an Insult: Popular Derogatory Terms Connote Important Individual Differences in Externalizing Behavior”. PsyArXiv. November 7.

Abstract: A large body of academic literature on personality has roots in the lexical hypothesis, the idea that the language contains information about the important individual differences among people. In the current series of studies, we investigate the psychosocial connotations of common insults, or terms used to derogate others. In Studies 1 and 2, we investigated the most frequently used insults to denigrate men and women (asshole, dick, bitch), and generated trait profiles that can be considered prototypical of each insult. In Studies 3 and 4, we expanded the scope of our investigation by examining how these insults are relevant to other key indicators of interpersonal functioning, including aggression, social information processing, personality disorders, and substance use. We also gathered thin-slice and informant reports to compare to self-reported insult endorsement. Each of the insults was strongly associated with trait Antagonism, as well as other behaviors that comprise Antagonism’s nomological network (e.g., bullying, psychopathy, social discounting, etc.) Additionally, informants and strangers tended to converge in their insult ratings. Results are discussed in terms of the importance of everyday language to psychological research.

We don't share political opinions with co-workers to avoid potential conflict, giving the impression of greater homogeneity and, paradoxically, more polarization

“It could turn ugly”: Selective disclosure of attitudes in political discussion networks. Sarah K.Cowan and Delia Baldassarri. Social Networks, Volume 52, January 2018, Pages 1-17.

•    We study under which conditions people reveal their political views to their discussion partners.
•    Americans are more likely to share their opinions with friends and family rather than co-workers.
•    We document the mechanism of selective disclosure.
•    Individuals, to avoid conflict, withhold their political views from those with whom they disagree.
•    What consequences selective disclosure has on social influence and political polarization?

Abstract: This article documents individuals selectively disclosing their political attitudes and discusses the consequences of these communication patterns for social influence and the democratic process. Using a large, diverse sample of U.S. resident adults, we ask under which conditions do people reveal their political preferences versus keeping them close to the vest. We find Americans are more likely to share their opinions with friends and family rather than co-workers and they are more likely to share their opinions on more salient topics. More importantly, they withhold their political attitudes specifically from those with whom they disagree in an attempt to avoid conflict. This produces the experience of highly homogeneous social contexts, in which only liberal or conservative views are voiced, while dissent remains silent, and oftentimes goes unacknowledged. This experience is not the result of homogeneous social contexts but the appearance of them. Paradoxically, the mechanism of selective disclosure, whose goal is to prevent conflict at the micro-level, might lead to the perception of greater division in the larger society.

Check also Brandt, Mark J, Jarret Crawford, and Daryl Van Tongeren. 2017. “Worldview Conflict in Daily Life”. PsyArXiv. September 29.

Criminal energetics: A theory of antisocial enhancement and criminal attenuation

Criminal energetics: A theory of antisocial enhancement and criminal attenuation. Michael G. Vaughn, Matt DeLisi. Aggression and Violent Behavior,

•    The role of energy in shaping antisocial and criminal careers is examined.
•    Energy is an enhancement and attenuator to an antisocial career.
•    A set of future research pathways for studying energetics and criminality is presented.

Abstract: Although energy is the currency of all life forms and energy is an underlying factor for physical and mental performance, its role in antisocial behavior has yet to be articulated. In this paper, we consider the role of energy in shaping antisocial and criminal careers and suggest that much like other forms of performance/productivity some criminal offenders are more energetic and therefore more virulent than others over the life-course. Specifically, we argue that energy is an enhancement and attenuator to an antisocial career and draw upon a diverse literature merging basic research on aging and energy production in human physiology and merge these findings with principles from the career criminal paradigm in criminology. Finally, we lay forth a set of research pathways, especially ways in which energy can be assessed, that can forge stronger links between the science of energetics and criminality.

Keywords: Age-crime curve; Aging; Antisocial behavior; Career criminals; Chronic offending; Energy; Energetics