Thursday, January 31, 2019

Facebook deactivation reduced online activity & increased watching TV alone, socializing with family & friends; reduced factual news knowledge & political polarization; increased subjective well-being

The Welfare Effects of Social Media. Hunt Allcott, Luca Braghieri, Sarah Eichmeyer, and Matthew Gentzkow. January 27, 2019.

Abstract: The rise of social media has provoked both optimism about potential societal benefits and concern about harms such as addiction, depression, and political polarization. We present a randomized evaluation of the welfare effects of Facebook, focusing on US users in the run-up to the 2018 midterm election. We measured the willingness-to-accept of 2,844 Facebook users to deactivate their Facebook accounts for four weeks, then randomly assigned a subset to actually do so in a way that we verified. Using a suite of outcomes from both surveys and direct measurement, we show that Facebook deactivation (i) reduced online activity, including other social media, while increasing offline activities such as watching TV alone and socializing with family and friends; (ii) reduced both factual news knowledge and political polarization; (iii) increased subjective well-being; and (iv) caused a large persistent reduction in Facebook use after the experiment. We use participants’ pre-experiment and post-experiment Facebook valuations to quantify the extent to which factors such as projection bias might cause people to overvalue Facebook, finding that the magnitude of any such biases is likely minor relative to the large consumer surplus that Facebook generates.

JEL Codes: D12, D90, I31, L86, O33.
Keywords: Social media, political polarization, subjective well-being, consumer surplus, projection bias.

The inflation expectations & perceptions of high-IQ men, but not others, are positively correlated over time; are also less likely to round and to forecast implausible values; & more likely to save for retirement

IQ, Expectations, and Choice. Francesco D’Acunto, Daniel Hoang, Maritta Paloviita, Michael Weber. NBER Working Paper No. 25496, January 2019.

We use administrative and survey-based micro data to study the relationship between cognitive abilities (IQ), the formation of economic expectations, and the choices of a representative male population. Men above the median IQ (high-IQ men) display 50% lower forecast errors for inflation than other men. The inflation expectations and perceptions of high-IQ men, but not others, are positively correlated over time. High-IQ men are also less likely to round and to forecast implausible values. In terms of choice, only high-IQ men increase their propensity to consume when expecting higher inflation as the consumer Euler equation prescribes. High-IQ men are also forward-looking -- they are more likely to save for retirement conditional on saving. Education levels, income, socio-economic status, and employment status, although important, do not explain the variation in expectations and choice by IQ. Our results have implications for heterogeneous-beliefs models of household consumption, saving, and investment.

Biological Bases of Beauty Revisited: Increased masculinity is unattractive, but increased femininity is not; averageness & dimorphism yield relatively accurate predictions, but less important than believed

Jones, Alex L., and Bastian Jaeger. 2019. “Biological Bases of Beauty Revisited: The Effect of Symmetry, Averageness, and Sexual Dimorphism on Female Facial Attractiveness.” PsyArXiv. January 31. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: The theoretical factors influencing human female facial attractiveness – symmetry, averageness, and sexual dimorphism – have been extensively studied. However, through improved methodologies, recent studies have called into question their links with life history and evolutionary utility. The current study uses a range of statistical and methodological approaches to quantify how important these factors actually are in perceiving attractiveness, through the use of novel analyses and by addressing methodological weaknesses inherent in the literature. Study One examines how manipulations of symmetry, averageness, femininity, and masculinity affect attractiveness using a two-alternative forced choice task, revealing that increased masculinity is unattractive, but increased femininity is not, and large effects observed for averageness. Study Two utilises a naturalistic ratings paradigm, finding similar effects of averageness and masculinity, but no effects of femininity and symmetry on attractiveness. Study Three applies a random forest machine learning algorithm and geometric measurements of the factors from faces to predict perceived attractiveness, finding that averageness and dimorphism are useful features capable of relatively accurate predictions. However, the factors do not explain as much variance in attractiveness as the wider literature suggests. Implications for future research on attractiveness are discussed.

The Influence of an Older Sibling on Preschoolers’ Lie‐telling Behavior

The Influence of an Older Sibling on Preschoolers’ Lie‐telling Behavior. Pooja Megha Nager, Shanna Williams, Victoria Talwar. Social Development,

Abstract: In the present study, children's (2‐ to 5‐years old) lie‐telling was examined in relation to theory of mind (first‐order false belief understanding), executive functioning (measuring inhibitory control in conjunction with working memory), and presence of siblings (no siblings vs. siblings; younger siblings vs. older siblings) in the home. Lie‐telling was observed using a temptation resistance paradigm. Overall, of the 152 (74.9%) children who peeked at the toy, 73 (48.0%) lied during the temptation resistance paradigm. Children with higher scores on measures of first‐order false belief understanding, and measures that relied on inhibitory control, were more likely to lie compared to their truthful counterparts. Additionally, children with older siblings were more likely to lie to the research assistant, and this relationship was independent of performance on cognitive tasks. Overall, results demonstrate that having an older sibling has an independent, direct effect on the development of young children's lie‐telling abilities, irrespective of cognitive ability. These findings support the argument that lie‐telling is a behavior that is facilitated by both cognitive and social factors.

The Myers‐Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) theory falters on rigorous theoretical criteria in that it lacks agreement with known facts & data, lacks testability, & possesses internal contradictions, but it is very popular

Evaluating the validity of Myers‐Briggs Type Indicator theory: A teaching tool and window into intuitive psychology. Randy Stein, Alexander B. Swan. Social and Personality Psychology Compass,

Abstract: Despite its immense popularity and impressive longevity, the Myers‐Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) has existed in a parallel universe to social and personality psychology. Here, we seek to increase academic awareness of this incredibly popular idea and provide a novel teaching reference for its conceptual flaws. We focus on examining the validity of the Jungian‐based theory behind MBTI that specifies that people have a “true type” delineated across four dichotomies. We find that the MBTI theory falters on rigorous theoretical criteria in that it lacks agreement with known facts and data, lacks testability, and possesses internal contradictions. We further discuss what MBTI's continued popularity says about how the general public might evaluate scientific theories.

Do People Believe That They Are More Deontological Than Others?

Do People Believe That They Are More Deontological Than Others? Ming-Hui Li, Li-Lin Rao. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,

Abstract: The question of how we decide that someone else has done something wrong is at the heart of moral psychology. Little work has been done to investigate whether people believe that others’ moral judgment differs from their own in moral dilemmas. We conducted four experiments using various measures and diverse samples to demonstrate the self–other discrepancy in moral judgment. We found that (a) people were more deontological when they made moral judgments themselves than when they judged a stranger (Studies 1-4) and (b) a protected values (PVs) account outperformed an emotion account and a construal-level theory account in explaining this self–other discrepancy (Studies 3 and 4). We argued that the self–other discrepancy in moral judgment may serve as a protective mechanism co-evolving alongside the social exchange mechanism and may contribute to better understanding the obstacles preventing people from cooperation.

Keywords: moral judgment, self–other discrepancy, deontology, utilitarianism, protected values

Trying to “put yourself in their shoes” can ultimately undermine self-persuasion; effect is attenuated when people take the perspective of someone who holds the counterattitudinal view yet has similar overall values

Perspective Taking and Self-Persuasion: Why “Putting Yourself in Their Shoes” Reduces Openness to Attitude Change. Rhia Catapano, Zakary L. Tormala, Derek D. Rucker. Psychological Science,

Abstract: Counterattitudinal-argument generation is a powerful tool for opening people up to alternative views. On the basis of decades of research, it should be especially effective when people adopt the perspective of individuals who hold alternative views. In the current research, however, we found the opposite: In three preregistered experiments (total N = 2,734), we found that taking the perspective of someone who endorses a counterattitudinal view lowers receptiveness to that view and reduces attitude change following a counterattitudinal-argument-generation task. This ironic effect can be understood through value congruence: Individuals who take the opposition’s perspective generate arguments that are incongruent with their own values, which diminishes receptiveness and attitude change. Thus, trying to “put yourself in their shoes” can ultimately undermine self-persuasion. Consistent with a value-congruence account, this backfire effect is attenuated when people take the perspective of someone who holds the counterattitudinal view yet has similar overall values.

Keywords: attitude change, persuasion, perspective taking, receptiveness, resistance, open data, open materials, preregistered

h/t: Tyler Cowen,

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Contrastive paintings (paintings with high diversity of colors) carry a premium than equivalent artworks which are performed in monochromatic style

The impact of color palettes on the prices of paintings. Elena Stepanova. Empirical Economics, February 2019, Volume 56, Issue 2, pp 755–773.

Abstract: We emphasize that color composition is an important characteristic of a painting. It impacts the auction price of a painting, but it has never been considered in previous studies on art markets. By using Picasso’s paintings and paintings of Color Field Abstract Expressionists sold in Chrisite’s and Sotheby’s auctions in New York between 1998 and 2016, we demonstrate the method to analyze color compositions: How to extract color palettes from a painting image and how to measure color characteristics. We propose two measures: (1) the surface occupied by specific colors, (2) color diversity of a painting composition. Controlling for all conventional painting and sale characteristics, our empirical results find significant evidence of contrastive paintings, i.e., paintings with high diversity of colors, carrying a premium than equivalent artworks which are performed in monochromatic style. In the case of Picasso’s paintings, our econometric analysis shows that some colors are associated with high prices.

Keywords: Art markets Hedonic pricing Picasso Rothko Visual perception Color Color quantizing

In the juvenile period, primates form sex-differentiated bonds: females spend more time with female kin, & males with unrelated males; human males in middle childhood add, as chimpanzees do, intergroup contests

Sex Differences in Human Peer Relationships: A Primate’s-Eye View. Joyce F. Benenson. Current Directions in Psychological Science,

Abstract: Bonds formed by nonhuman animals can illuminate the structure of human relationships. In the juvenile period, primates of many species that are genetically similar to humans form sex-differentiated bonds in which females spend more time with female kin, and males spend more time with unrelated same-sex peers. Research with humans suggests a similar sex difference, with one notable addition: Beginning in middle childhood, male peer groups begin engaging in complex activities, including intergroup contests. This additional component of human peer relations resembles that of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), one of humans’ closest living genetic relatives. Cross-species and developmental evidence can aid in constructing a theory of human peer relations that differs by sex.

Keywords: peer relations, primates, sex differences, development