Friday, February 8, 2019

Alext Tabarrok: First in-depth, independent evaluation of one MVP project & it doesn't look great: The project did some good but the big push failed & the good could have been done at lower cost

Barnett, C., Masset, E. Dogbe, T., Jupp, D., Korboe, D., Acharya, A., Nelson, K., Eager, R. and Hilton, T. (2018) 'Impact Evaluation of the SADA Millennium Villages Project in Northern Ghana: Endline Summary Report', Brighton: Itad in association with IDS, LSHTM and PDA Ghana.

Abstract: The Millennium Villages Project (MVP) aims to demonstrate how the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) could be achieved locally through an integrated approach to development. While the MDGs have now been superseded by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, 2016–30), there remains a consistent thread to the MDGs around issues such as eradicating poverty, preventing avoidable deaths and improving education. Furthermore, the interconnected nature of the SDGs means the MVP model also has relevance for those seeking to address extreme poverty by taking an integrated approach to sustainable development. This report summarises the findings from what we believe to be the first independent impact evaluation of the MVP approach. It is hoped that the evidence and analysis will be of relevance to a wide range of actors in international development.

Comments by A Tabarrok at The Big Push Failed, Oct 16 2018,

"The initial MVP evaluation claimed great success but simply compared some development indicators before and after in the treated villages without comparing to trends elsewhere. In 2010 such a study was completely out of step with contemporary practices in impact evaluation. Red flag! Clemens and Demombynes showed that comparing to trends elsewhere significantly moderated the impact. A second MVP paper was published in the Lancet but then was quickly retracted when Bump, Clemens, Demombynes and Haddad demonstrated that it had  significant errors. Clemens and Demombynes wrote a summary piece on the controversy then in an astounding and under-reported scandal the MVP tried to stifle Clemens and Demombynes. The MVP, with Jeff Sachs at the head, also sicced their lawyers on Nina Munk and her book, The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty. More red flags.

Yet, despite all of this controversy and bad behavior, the MVP project continued to move ahead and in 2012, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) funded US $11 million into an MVP in Northern Ghana that ran until December 2016. Under the auspices of the DFID, we now finally have the first in-depth, independent evaluation of one MVP project and it doesn’t look great. The project did some good but the big push failed and the good that was done could have been done at lower cost."

Check the post, it has lots of links.

Conservatives seem more fear-motivated, disgust-sensitive, & happy; liberals might have greater overall negative emotional biases towards politicians who are ideologically dissimilar

Contempt of Congress: Do Liberals and Conservatives Harbor Equivalent Negative Emotional Biases Towards Ideologically Congruent vs. Incongruent Politicians at the Level of Individual Emotions? Russell L. Steiger, Christine Reyna, Geoffrey Wetherell, Gabrielle Iverson. Journal of Social and Political Psychology,  Vol 7, No 1 (2019).

Abstract: Prior research suggests that conservatives are more fear-motivated, disgust-sensitive, and happy than liberals. Yet when it comes to political targets (e.g., politicians), both liberals and conservatives can get very emotional. We examined whether the ideological differences in emotion seen in past research apply to emotions towards specific ideologically similar vs. dissimilar targets, or whether these emotions are instead equivalent between liberals and conservatives. Across two studies, liberals and conservatives rated their anger, contempt, disgust, fear, and happiness towards Democratic and Republican congresspersons. We compared participants’ levels of each emotion towards their respective ideologically dissimilar and ideologically similar congresspersons. Liberals and conservatives both experienced stronger negative emotions towards ideologically dissimilar congresspersons than they did towards ideologically similar ones. Neither liberals nor conservatives differed in negative emotions towards politicians overall (i.e., on average). However, there were ideological differences in emotional bias. In Study 1, liberals exhibited a greater contempt bias (i.e., a larger gap in contempt ratings between ideologically similar and ideologically dissimilar politicians) than conservatives did. In Study 2, liberals exhibited greater contempt, anger, disgust, and happiness biases than conservatives did. The need to consider context in the study of ideological differences in emotion is discussed.

Although there are well-documented findings suggesting that conservatives are more prone to experiencing fear, disgust, and happiness than liberals are, these ideological differences in emotion did not come into play in the context of emotions towards ideologically dissimilar versus ideologically similar politicians. These findings suggest that emotions towards politicians may represent a special case that overrides these general ideological differences in emotion. Surprisingly however, our findings also indicated that liberals might have greater overall negative emotional biases towards politicians who are ideologically dissimilar, and that this difference may be especially pronounced regarding contempt. This finding may be a function of political power dynamics (greater emotional bias towards those who controlled congress at the time), or may reflect an ideological difference in emotion that has yet to be revealed—a liberal orientation towards contempt.

Mice use olfaction to asses risk in the environment from predators & food; ethanol elicited clear avoidance in laboratory mice, as fox faeces did; ethanol could be a cue for fruit ripening (over-ripe, unhealthy fruits)

Ethanol and a chemical from fox faeces modulate exploratory behaviour in laboratory mice. Carlos Grau et al. Applied Animal Behaviour Science,

•    Mice use olfaction to asses risk in the environment from predators and food
•    Ethanol, a plant-based chemical cue elicited clear avoidance in laboratory mice
•    Fox faeces and TMT (predator stimuli) elicited avoidance with some differences to ethanol

Abstract: Mice are macrosmatic animals that use olfaction as their main source of information to increase fitness; they process predator cues to assess risk, and plants and fruit cues to find nutritional resources and assess their quality or toxicity. In this study, we examined the effects of ethanol as an olfactory stimulus related to fruit rotting, against 2,4,5-trimethylthiazoline (TMT, a fox faeces compound), its native origin, the fox faeces and a negative control on avoidance, locomotor activity, and stress related behaviour, measured by the production of faecal boli. Our results showed that mice clearly avoided ethanol (P=<0.0001) and decreased their locomotor activity (P = 0.0076) when ethanol was present. The molecule 2,4,5-trimethylthiazoline (TMT), was the most avoided (P=<0.0001) and showed the lowest locomotor activity (P = 0.0004). Both treatments, ethanol (P = 0.0348) and TMT (P = 0.0084) increased the number of faecal boli.

The clear avoidance and behavioural effects of ethanol in mice have direct implications in laboratory animal research, where it is used widely. This avoidance effect could elicit stressful situations and modify behavioural and physiological responses in mice housed in research facilities. In addition, this avoidance could be used as a non-lethal, inexpensive and non-toxic tool in rodent pest management. To explain these results, we suggest ethanol as a probable cue for fruit ripening, in the wild, this chemical cue could convey primordial information about the ripening state of fruits, allowing animals to avoid over-ripe, unhealthy fruits.

But check, from 2012: Sexual Deprivation Increases Ethanol Intake in Drosophila. G. Shohat-Ophir et al. Science Mar 16 2012: Vol. 335, Issue 6074, pp. 1351-1355.

In this, we are closer to a fly than to a mouse...

Anxious attachment (hypervigilant detection of and reactivity to social inconsistency and unreliability) heightens pattern deviancy (distortions of repeated forms or models) aversion, contributing to prejudice

Anxious Attachment as an Antecedent of People's Aversion Towards Pattern Deviancy. Anton Gollwitzer, Margaret S. Clark. European Journal of Social Psychology, Dec 2018,

Abstract: Research suggests that people's aversion towards pattern deviancy – distortions of repeated forms or models – contributes to social phenomena, such as prejudice. Yet, the factors motivating pattern deviancy aversion remain unclear. Potentially, anxious attachment, as it entails hypervigilant detection of and reactivity to social inconsistency and unreliability, heightens pattern deviancy aversion. In Studies 1 (N = 137) and 2 (N = 102), anxious but not avoidant attachment predicted aversion towards broken patterns of geometric shapes. In Studies 3 (N = 310) and 4 (N = 470), experimentally inducing anxious versus avoidant and secure attachment (Study 3), and versus a neutral prime (Study 4), heightened pattern deviancy aversion. Controlling for participants’ aversion towards unbroken patterns, novel objects, and negative stimuli did not change these results. Our findings demonstrate that anxious attachment is one antecedent of pattern deviancy aversion, and suggest that pattern deviancy aversion may underlie links between anxious attachment and certain social phenomena.

People tend to derogate their ideological opponents. But how does social status affect this tendency?

Taking the High Ground: The Impact of Social Status on the Derogation of Ideological Opponents. Aiden Gregg, Nikhila Mahadevan, Constantine Sedikides. Social Cognition 36(1), November 2017, DOI: 10.1521/soco.2018.36.1.43

Abstract: People tend to derogate their ideological opponents. But how does social status affect this tendency? We tested a prediction derived from hierometer theory that people with higher status would derogate ideological opponents less (i.e., evaluate them more charitably). We further predicted that greater rhetoric handling prowess (RHP: feeling more confident and less intimidated while arguing) would mediate the effect. Study 1 established a link between higher status and lesser opponent derogation correlationally. Study 2 did so experimentally. Using a scale to assess RHP developed and validated in Study 3, Study 4 established that RHP statistically mediated the correlational link between status and derogation. In Study 5, experimentally manipulating status affected RHP as predicted. However, in Study 6, experimentally manipulating RHP did not affect opponent derogation as predicted. Thus, our findings were substantially, but not entirely, consistent with our theoretically-derived predictions. Implications for hierometer theory, and related theoretical approaches, are considered.

People primarily justify eating meat using one of four rationalizations: they believe it is natural, necessary, normal, and/or nice; each of these is associated with a specific psychological profile

Psychological profiles of people who justify eating meat as natural, necessary, normal, or nice. Christopher J. Hopwood, Wiebke Bleidorn. Food Quality and Preference,

•    People primarily justify eating meat using one of four rationalizations: they believe it is natural, necessary, normal, and/or nice.
•    Each of these rationalizations is associated with a specific psychological profile of personality traits and values.
•    These profiles provide information about individual differences in food choice and may be used to promote behavior change.

Abstract: Research suggests that people tend to use one of four rationalizations to justify eating meat despite its empirically established negative consequences for both personal and societal well-being: the beliefs that meat is natural, necessary, normal, or nice. The goal of this study was to better understand what kind of people would tend to use these different rationalizations in terms of their personality traits, values, and motivations for plant-based eating. Results suggest specific psychological profiles for each of the four meat-eating rationalizations. These profiles may be useful for behavior change advocacy and for furthering the basic science of individual differences underlying food preferences and choices. Suggestions for future research that builds upon these initial findings are highlighted.

Check also Eating meat does not make you mean: Why vegetarians don't have the moral high ground. Rolf Degen, 2014