Thursday, June 21, 2018

Is the Illusory Truth Effect Robust to Individual Differences in Cognitive Ability, Need for Cognitive Closure, and Cognitive Style? Intelligence (cognitive ability) doesn't help to combat the effect of repetition

De keersmaecker, Jonas and Roets, Arne and Pennycook, Gordon and Rand, David G., Is the Illusory Truth Effect Robust to Individual Differences in Cognitive Ability, Need for Cognitive Closure, and Cognitive Style? (April 17, 2018).

Abstract: People are more inclined to believe that information is true if they have encountered it before. Although this illusory truth effect is firmly established, little is known about whether it is influenced by inter-individual differences in high-level cognition. Here we focus on three factors that have been shown to play a critical role in a wide variety of epistemic processes: cognitive ability, need for cognitive closure, and cognitive styles. In a first lab study (N = 207), there was no evidence for the moderating role of cognitive ability, need for cognitive closure, or preference for analytic thinking, but individual differences in experiential thinking increased the illusory truth effect. A second, preregistered study (N = 336), however, did not replicate the moderating role of experiential thinking, and also found no evidence for moderation by preference for analytic thinking and cognitive reflection. Finally, in a third study (N = 940), the illusory truth effect was examined using a highly involving set of stimuli, i.e. politically charged news headlines. Again, individual differences in cognitive reflection did not moderate the effect. These results demonstrate that the illusory truth effect is robust to individual differences in cognitive ability, need for cognitive closure and cognitive style.

Keywords: Illusory Truth Effect; Cognitive Style; Cognitive Ability; Need for Cognitive Closure; Decision Making

Susceptibility to partisan fake news is better explained by lack of reasoning (lazyness in thinking) than by motivated reasoning (partisanship)

Lazy, not biased: Susceptibility to partisan fake news is better explained by lack of reasoning than by motivated reasoning. Gordon Pennycook, David G. Rand. Cognition,

•    Participants rated perceived accuracy of fake and real news headlines.
•    Analytic thinking was associated with ability to discern between fake and real.
•    We found no evidence that analytic thinking exacerbates motivated reasoning.
•    Falling for fake news is more a result of a lack of thinking than partisanship.

Abstract: Why do people believe blatantly inaccurate news headlines (“fake news”)? Do we use our reasoning abilities to convince ourselves that statements that align with our ideology are true, or does reasoning allow us to effectively differentiate fake from real regardless of political ideology? Here we test these competing accounts in two studies (total N = 3446 Mechanical Turk workers) by using the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) as a measure of the propensity to engage in analytical reasoning. We find that CRT performance is negatively correlated with the perceived accuracy of fake news, and positively correlated with the ability to discern fake news from real news – even for headlines that align with individuals’ political ideology. Moreover, overall discernment was actually better for ideologically aligned headlines than for misaligned headlines. Finally, a headline-level analysis finds that CRT is negatively correlated with perceived accuracy of relatively implausible (primarily fake) headlines, and positively correlated with perceived accuracy of relatively plausible (primarily real) headlines. In contrast, the correlation between CRT and perceived accuracy is unrelated to how closely the headline aligns with the participant’s ideology. Thus, we conclude that analytic thinking is used to assess the plausibility of headlines, regardless of whether the stories are consistent or inconsistent with one’s political ideology. Our findings therefore suggest that susceptibility to fake news is driven more by lazy thinking than it is by partisan bias per se – a finding that opens potential avenues for fighting fake news.

Keywords: Fake news; News media; Social media; Analytic thinking; Cognitive reflection test; Intuition; Dual process theory

Who’s Getting the Best Sex? A Comparison by Sexual Orientation

Who’s Getting the Best Sex? A Comparison by Sexual Orientation. Lacey J. Ritter, Hannah R. Morris, David Knox. Sexuality & Culture,

Abstract: This study examined the difference in sexual satisfaction between sexual minority and heterosexual college students testing the mediation effects of institutional affiliations and interpersonal relationships. A convenience sample of 280 college sociology students completed a 47-item Internet questionnaire, including self-reports on sexual satisfaction and sexual behaviors/activities. Data on 193 heterosexuals and 87 sexual minority respondents were analyzed using regression to test for differences in reported levels of sexual satisfaction by sexual orientation. Results revealed that sexual minority undergraduates reported lower sexual satisfaction than heterosexual undergraduates. This difference persisted when controlling for sex, race, education, and SES. Mediation analyses found support for the hypothesis that institutional affiliations and interpersonal relationships have an effect on this association. Previous researchers have suggested that sexual minority relationships exist in a context of heterosexism, suppression, stigmatization, prejudice, discrimination and violence which results in lower relationship quality. Such an impact on minority couples’ satisfaction may spill over into lower sexual satisfaction.

Undressed for Success? The Effects of Half-Naked Women on Economic Behavior

Bonnier, Evelina and Dreber, Anna and Hederos Eriksson, Karin and Sandberg, Anna, Undressed for Success? The Effects of Half-Naked Women on Economic Behavior (May 15, 2018).

Abstract: Images of half-naked women are in many societies ubiquitous in advertising and popular culture. Yet relatively little is known about the potential impacts of such images on economic decision making. In this paper, we examine how exposure to images of half-naked women affect risk taking, willingness to compete and math performance. We perform a lab experiment with a total of 648 participants of both genders, randomly exposing participants to advertising images including either women in bikini or underwear, fully dressed women, or no women. Exposure to images of half-naked women could potentially have effects on economic preferences and performance through channels such as arousal, cognitive load and stereotyping. Following a pre-registered pre-analysis plan, we find no treatment effects on any of the outcome measures for female participants. For male participants, we also find no effect on willingness to compete or math performance, but our results indicate that men take more risk after having been exposed to images of half-naked women compared to images including no women. We thus do not find any strong support for the hypothesis that exposure to images of half-naked women impact economic preferences, but given the indications of an effect on men's risk taking future studies should explore this further.

Keywords: economic decision making, risk preferences, willingness to compete, altruism, experiment
JEL Classification: D03, C91

Again, those in the lower economic level ask less for redistribution

Fatke, Matthias, Inequality and Political Behavior: Objective Levels Versus Subjective Perceptions (March 8, 2018).

Abstract: Inequality poses one of the biggest challenges of our time. Evidently, it is not self-correcting in the sense that citizens demand more redistributive measures in light of rising inequality. Recent studies suggest this might be due to the fact that citizens’ perceptions of inequality diverge from objective levels. Moreover, it is not the latter, but the former, which are related to preferences conducive to redistribution. Yet, the nascent literature on inequality perceptions exhibits at least two lacunae. First, studies so far have not accounted for the role of subjective position in society. And second, studies on political participation and attitudes still rely by and large on objective levels of inequality. Against this backdrop, our paper advances two arguments: the relationship between inequality perceptions and preferences towards redistribution is conditional on the subjective position of respondents; and political participation and attitudes are rather related to subjective perceptions of inequality instead of objective levels. To that end, we analyze comprehensive survey data on inequality perceptions from the social inequality module of the International Social Survey Programme (1992, 1999, and 2009). Since no comparative data with indicators for both inequality perceptions and political behavior is available, we join additionally a wave of the 2004 ISSP and apply multiple imputation. This allows, for the first time, testing subjective perceptions of inequality as predictor of political behavior. Gaining a better understanding of inequality perceptions contributes to comprehending the absence self-correcting inequality.

Keywords: Inequality, Political Behavior, Redistribution, Participation, Protest, Perceptions
JEL Classification: D63, D01, D72, D91

Check also: "We document a statistically significant and robust positive relation between risk aversion and the demand for redistribution that is also economically important. We show that previously used proxies for risk aversion (such as being an entrepreneur or having a history of unemployment) do not capture the effect of our measure of risk aversion but have distinctly different effects on the demand for redistribution." From Individual risk preferences and the demand for redistribution. Manja Gärtner, Johanna Mollerstrom and David Seim. Journal of Public Economics, v 153, September 2017, Pages 49-55.

An Empirical Test of Pure Altruism Theory on Blood Type and Blood Donation Behaviors: More donations when O-type individuals knew & believed that their blood can be medically transfused into individuals of all blood groups

Blood Type and Blood Donation Behaviors: An Empirical Test of Pure Altruism Theory. Shusaku Sasaki et al. ISER Discussion Paper No. 1029,

Abstract: We examined whether the knowledge that your private donation has a large number of potential recipients causes you to give more or less. We found that the people with blood type O are more likely to have donated blood than those with other blood types, by using a Japan’s nationally representative survey. This association was found to be stronger in a subsample of individuals who knew and believed that blood type O can be medically transfused into individuals of all blood groups. However, we found that blood type O does not have any significant relationship with the other altruistic behaviors (registration for bone-marrow donation, intention to donate organs, and the making of monetary donations) and altruistic characteristics (altruism, trust, reciprocity, and cooperativeness). After further analyses, we confirmed that the wider number of potential recipients of blood type O donations promoted the blood-donation behaviors of the people with this blood type.

Keywords: ABO Blood Group, Blood Donation, Group Size, Public Good, Pure Altruism, Behavioral Economics

When A+B < A: Cognitive Bias in Experts’ Judgment of Environmental Impact

When A+B < A: Cognitive Bias in Experts’ Judgment of Environmental Impact. Mattias Holmgren et al. Front. Psychol., May 29 2018,

Abstract: When ‘environmentally friendly’ items are added to a set of conventional items, people report that the total set will have a lower environmental impact even though the actual impact increases. One hypothesis is that this “negative footprint illusion” arises because people, who are susceptible to the illusion, lack necessary knowledge of the item’s actual environmental impact, perhaps coupled with a lack of mathematical skills. The study reported here addressed this hypothesis by recruiting participants (‘experts’) from a master’s program in energy systems, who thus have bachelor degrees in energy-related fields including academic training in mathematics. They were asked to estimate the number of trees needed to compensate for the environmental burden of two sets of buildings: one set of 150 buildings with conventional energy ratings and one set including the same 150 buildings but also 50 ‘green’ (energy-efficient) buildings. The experts reported that less trees were needed to compensate for the set with 150 conventional and 50 ‘green’ buildings compared to the set with only the 150 conventional buildings. This negative footprint illusion was as large in magnitude for the experts as it was for a group of novices without academic training in energy-related fields. We conclude that people are not immune to the negative footprint illusion even when they have the knowledge necessary to make accurate judgments.

Individuals discredit issue polls that suggest their views are in the minority, and those with greater political knowledge and methodological knowledge displayed this bias more strongly

Communicating Public Opinion in Post-Fact Politics: Biased Processing of Public Opinion Reports and Potential Journalistic Correctives. Ozan Kuru, PhD Thesis, 2018. …

ABSTRACT: People rely on polls and other representations of public opinion in the media to update their political cognitions and behaviors. However, individuals’ preexisting beliefs can color how they perceive opinion reports and lead them to cherry-pick evidence that is congenial when presented with multiple options. Such biases result in distorted perceptions of public opinion, declining trust in journalism, and political polarization. Moreover, in today’s unprecedentedly polarized and contentious information environment, individuals often encounter contradictory messages from digital data-journalism and numerical evidence is regularly critiqued, fact-checked, or debunked on reasonable or unreasonable grounds. In such a cacophonous context, individuals’ biases in information processing might amplify. Through three large national survey experiments and one smaller study, this dissertation examines how news consumers’ attributes, the content of opinion reports, and patterns of media coverage can trigger or mitigate biases in public perceptions. In the first part, I document that individuals process reports of public opinion in biased ways when they evaluate issue polls, election polls in competitive contexts, and diverse metrics of public opinion. I also show that their levels of knowledge and education moderate the extent of these biases. In the second part, I find that the corrective potential of three journalistic remedies to reduce these biases are minimal and contingent upon individuals’ education levels. I discuss implications for political polarization, trust in the press and representatives, and democratic politics at large.