Tuesday, June 25, 2019

From 2003: Transparency in prices increased them in the Danish concrete case

Government‐Assisted Oligopoly Coordination? A Concrete Case. Svend Albæk, Peter Møllgaard, Per B. Overgaard. The Journal of Industrial Economics, March 27 2003. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-6451.00057

Abstract: In 1993 the Danish antitrust authority decided to gather and publish firm‐specific transactions prices for two grades of ready‐mixed concrete in three regions of Denmark. Following initial publication, average prices of reported grades increased by 15–20 percent within one year. We investigate whether this was due to a business upturn and/or capacity constraints, but argue that these seem to have little explanatory power. We conclude that a better explanation is that publication of prices allowed firms to reduce the intensity of oligopoly price competition and, hence, led to increased prices contrary to the aim of the authority.

Examine gaze patterns to erotic stimuli: Women knowing their being observed made significantly fewer fixations than men, whereas no such gender differences were found in the not-knowing condition

“I can see you”: The impact of implied social presence on visual attention to erotic and neutral stimuli in men and women. Sonia Milani, Lori A. Brotto, Alan Kingstone. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, June 25, 2019. https://doi.org/10.3138/cjhs.2019-0007

Abstract: The watchful eye of others often leads people to alter their behaviour. Eye tracking methodology has been used to create implied social presence, as well as to examine gaze patterns to erotic stimuli, but the effects of implied social presence on visual attention to erotic and neutral stimuli remains largely unknown. In the present study, we examined precisely this issue. We compared looking behaviour of men and women who were either aware that their gaze patterns were being monitored (implied social presence) and those who lacked this knowledge (no implied presence). Women in the aware condition made significantly fewer fixations than men, whereas no such gender differences were found in the unaware condition. Across both conditions, men made significantly more fixations to the erotic stimuli compared to the neutral stimuli and the background. For women, no significant differences were found in the number of fixations to the erotic stimuli and the background, although women look at these areas more than the neutral stimuli. These results demonstrate that eye tracking creates an implied social presence, and this differentially affects the looking behaviour of women versus men. Moreover, gendered sexual norms coupled with the need to manage self-presentation may influence women’s sexual urges and expressions. The inhibition of sexuality displayed by women indicates that sexual double standards still exist in society and need to be addressed. As well, theoretical, methodological, and clinical implications of eye tracking methodology should be taken into consideration in future research.

Keywords: Erotic stimuli, eye tracking, implied social presence, impression management, sexual preferences, visual attention

Healthy and "sustainable" diets are neutral in taste; include less umami, salt, fat and bitter tastes

Taste profiles of diets high and low in environmental sustainability and health. L.M. van Bussel et al. Food Quality and Preference, June 21 2019, 103730. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2019.103730

•    Taste profiles differ between subgroups high and low on sustainability and health.
•    Healthy and sustainable diets are neutral in taste (39.4 en%)
•    Healthy and sustainable diets include less umami, salt, fat and bitter tastes.

Abstract: To mitigate the effects of climate change, we need to shift towards a more sustainable and healthier diet. This presumably affects the taste and texture of the diet. We assessed the taste profiles of current diets, of healthier and more sustainable diets and of less healthy and less sustainable diets in a Dutch adult population (n=1380) in the Nutritional Questionnaire Plus study. The Dutch Healthy Diet index and the pReCiPe-score were used to create tertiles by healthiness and sustainability of diets respectively. Based on the lowest and highest tertiles of these two indicators we constructed four subgroups. For each participant, we calculated the proportional contribution of taste clusters (n=6) to the total daily energy intake (en%) and the total amount consumed (gram%) using a taste database including ∼469 foods. The six taste clusters consisted of 1) neutral, 2) salt, umami, fat, 3) sweet, sour, 4) sweet, fat, 5) fat and 6) bitter tasting foods. ANOVA was used to evaluate the differences between subjects in the extreme tertiles. Results show that participants who have a healthier and more sustainable diet consumed less food products from the taste cluster ‘umami, salt, fat’ (16.1 en%) and ‘bitter’ (17.1 gram%) and more products from the taste cluster ‘neutral’ (41.9 en%) compared to participants that have a less healthy and less sustainable diet (umami, salt, fat: 25.6 en%; bitter: 29.0 gram%; neutral: 33.0 en%). Therefore, taste profiles should be taken into account when proposing menus and diets that are healthier and more sustainable.

The Effects of Pornography on Unethical Behavior in Business: The authors think that the consumers behave less ethically

The Effects of Pornography on Unethical Behavior in Business. Nathan W. Mecham, Melissa F. Lewis-Western, David A. Wood. Journal of Business Ethics, June 14 2019. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10551-019-04230-8

Abstract: Pornography is no longer an activity confined to a small group of individuals or the privacy of one’s home. Rather, it has permeated modern culture, including the work environment. Given the pervasive nature of pornography, we study how viewing pornography affects unethical behavior at work. Using survey data from a sample that approximates a nationally representative sample in terms of demographics, we find a positive correlation between viewing pornography and intended unethical behavior. We then conduct an experiment to provide causal evidence. The experiment confirms the survey—consuming pornography causes individuals to be less ethical. We find that this relationship is mediated by increased moral disengagement from dehumanization of others due to viewing pornography. Combined, our results suggest that choosing to consume pornography causes individuals to behave less ethically. Because unethical employee behavior has been linked to numerous negative organization outcomes including fraud, collusion, and other self-serving behaviors, our results have implications for most societal organizations.

Keywords: Pornography Ethics Unethical behavior Dehumanization

Pornography is not a new activity, but its use has increased significantly over the last 20 years (e.g., Price et al. 2016). As a result, an activity that was once primarily restricted to adolescent boys and a small proportion of adults has become more commonplace even in business settings. It is estimated that 40 million Americans regularly visit pornographic websites (Ropelato 2014). A 2018 survey finds that nearly 60% of respondents watch pornography at work, with half viewing pornography on a monthly basis and 10% viewing it daily (McDonald 2018). Indeed, 70% of all internet pornography traffic occurs between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., a time when most people are likely working (Conlin 2000; Covenant Eyes 2015). A recent Bloomberg article concludes that “watching porn at the office is extremely common” (Suddath 2014). In addition to the statistics, there are numerous anecdotal examples of pornography consumption at work.1 For example:
    During the past 5 years, the SEC OIG (Office of Inspector General) substantiated that 33 SEC employees and or contractors violated Commission rules and policies, as well as the government-wide Standards of Ethical Conduct, by viewing pornographic, sexually explicit or sexually suggestive images using government computer resources and official time (CNN 2010).

    For 2 years, a high-level executive at a New England finance company arrived at work each morning, said hello to his secretary, and then shut the door of his roomy, windowed office behind him. Like clockwork, he drew the blinds and tilted his computer screen toward him so that—should anyone suddenly barge in—they couldn’t tell what he was doing. For the next 6 h, and sometimes eight, he proceeded to cruise the Internet for the raunchiest porn sites he could find (Conlin 2000).

    Using the Freedom of Information Act, the News 4 I-Team obtained investigative records from a dozen federal agencies to gather a sampling of recent cases of computer misuse by employees. The sampling revealed at least 50 cases of large-scale or criminal pornography viewing at those 12 agencies since 2015, including several in which employees acknowledged spending large chunks of work days surfing for pornography (NBC 2018).

    Earlier this year an employee at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency got caught, almost literally, with his pants down. A special agent from the EPA’s Office of Inspector General showed up at the senior-level employee’s office to find out why he’d stored pornographic images on the network servers. The agent walked in on the guy—you guessed it—watching porn. When pressed, the employee admitted he’d been watching sexy sites for 2 to 6 h every workday since 2010 (Suddath 2014).

These statistics and anecdotal stories highlight that pornography consumption at work is a significant issue. While managers should be alarmed because of the time and resources wasted due to pornography consumption at work (with some estimating the loss to U.S. companies as high as $16.9 billion annually2), pornography consumption may be even more problematic if it negatively influences other workplace behaviors. Specifically, pornography consumption may influence employees’ propensity to behave unethically. Consequently, we investigate the causal relation between viewing pornography and unethical behavior.

We develop a model of how pornography increases unethical behavior based on prior research. Prior research suggests two likely paths for pornography consumption to increase unethical behavior. First, research has found that viewing pornography increases delay discounting (Lawyer 2008; Negash et al. 2016; Van den Bergh et al. 2008; Wilson and Daly 2004). Individuals with greater tendencies to heavily discount future outcomes are willing to give up a larger future benefit for a smaller immediate benefit. Greater delay discounting has been linked to reduced self-control and increased impulsive, short-sighted behavior (Fawcett et al. 2012), which increases unethical behavior (Lee et al. 2017). As such, increases in delay discounting from pornography consumption are expected to increase unethical behavior.

Second, prior research finds that moral disengagement increases unethical behavior (e.g., Detert et al. 2008; Gabbiadini et al. 2014). Bandura’s (1986) model of moral disengagement includes eight mechanisms3 that facilitate moral disengagement. We focus on one—dehumanization4—because prior research posits that pornography consumption increases the viewer’s propensity to dehumanize others (Fagan 2009; Peter and Valkenburg 2007; Schneider 2000). That is, if pornography consumption increases moral disengagement, then dehumanization is the likely mechanism. Thus, we expect that pornography consumption will increase unethical behavior if it increases employees’ tendencies to dehumanize others. In summary, we expect viewing pornography to be positively associated with unethical behavior and for this effect to manifest from increases in delay discounting, dehumanization, or both.

To examine the relation between pornography consumption and unethical behavior, we use two complementary methodologies, a survey and an experiment, that have different validity strengths and weaknesses. The survey allows us to test whether effects are present outside of a laboratory-setting. The experiment provides causal evidence and evidence on the underlying mechanisms (i.e., delay discounting and dehumanization). Together, consistent results across methodologies provide strong evidence that the effects are both causal and generalizable.

First, we conduct a survey using a sample reflective of the U.S. national population in demographics. In this sample of 1083 U.S. adults, we find that 44% of the sample report that they never view pornography, 24% report rarely viewing it, 22% occasionally view it, and 6% and 4% view it frequently and very frequently, respectively. We created a hypothetical situation that asked participants how likely they would be to dishonestly abuse a company’s policy for personal benefit (i.e., how likely they are to lie for monetary gain). We find a significant, monotonically increasing relation between pornography consumption and willingness to behave unethically (i.e., to lie for monetary gain). This relation is robust to controlling for various demographic characteristics of respondents.

Second, to provide evidence that our results are causal and not just associative in nature and to examine the role of delay discounting and dehumanization as possible mediating variables, we conduct an experiment. For our experiment, we employed participants to complete a task and measured if pornography consumption influenced their willingness to shirk work and lie about work performed—two common unethical workplace behaviors (Rodriguez 2015). To protect participants and yet collect the data necessary to test our hypotheses, we do not expose participants directly to pornography, but rather we asked participants in one experimental condition to recall and describe in detail their last viewing of pornography. This activated pornographic imagery in the minds of those who choose to view pornography and allowed those who do not choose to view it to avoid unwanted exposure. We then instructed participants that their job was to watch all of a 10-min video. The video was boring, thus providing participants with an incentive to skip the video. We later asked participants if they watched the entire video and measured who was lying by recording whether they actually watched the video or not.

The results of the experiment show that participants shirk work (by not watching the video) and lie about work performed 21% of the time when they recalled their last experience with pornography and only 8% of the time when they recalled a non-pornographic situation. Thus, viewing pornography increased lying by 2.6 times—a sizable and economically significant effect. Furthermore, we test the two possible mediators for the effect of pornography on unethical behavior—delay discounting and dehumanization. The results of our mediation analysis show only dehumanization as a statistically significant mediator. Pornography use increases viewers’ dehumanization of others, which in turn increases viewers’ willingness to shirk work and lie for personal benefit.

This paper contributes to the literature in several ways. This is the first study, of which we are aware, that shows the deleterious effects of pornography on unethical behavior. In addition, we can identify at least one mechanism by which pornography causes unethical behavior—by increasing dehumanization of others. Prior research argues that pornography consumption will increase dehumanization, but we are unaware of any causal evidence to this point. Thus, our experimental results support the commonly touted, but untested link between pornography and dehumanization. These results are also important for several aspects of organizational performance. First, Moore et al. (2012) provide evidence that employees’ propensity to morally disengage via dehumanization and other disengagement mechanisms leads to unethical organizational behavior including an increased propensity for fraud and other less egregious self-serving behavior. Similarly, Welsh et al. (2015) provide evidence that small ethical infractions pave the way for larger transgressions that lead to fraud and other corporate scandals.5 Thus, increases in employee pornography consumption are likely to increase firm-level fraud risk and the risk of other self-serving behaviors that hinder achievement of organizational goals.

Second, because pornography consumption causes dehumanization of others, the incidence of sexual harassment or hostile work environments is likely to increase with increases in employee pornography consumption. This is detrimental to organizations because harassment imposes both direct costs on the company (e.g., from payouts to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and plaintiffs, attorney’s fees) and indirect costs in terms of lost productivity and employee turnover. A 2016 report issued by the U.S. EEOC concludes that the indirect costs of lost productivity from harassment extends to all workers, not just those directly impacted, and that its true cost includes lost productivity, increased turnover, and damage to the firm’s reputation.

Finally, our results are important because they are suggestive of other potential costs of pornography in addition to unethical behavior. Because pornography increases employees’ propensity to dehumanize others, it also likely causes other negative outcomes that stem from dehumanization aside from unethical behavior. For example, dehumanization causes delegitimization (Bar-Tal 2000), which may be seen when an individual or group is delegitimized to prevent them from getting a promotion; aggression (Greitemeyer and McLatchie 2011; Rudman and Mescher 2012), which may be exhibited by verbal abuse of an employee by a manager; and unwillingness to help others (Andrighetto et al. 2014; Cuddy et al. 2007), which could have adverse effects especially in team projects. Given the negative effects of pornography we find in this study and that others have found (Malamuth and Ceniti 1986; Willoughby et al. 2014), it is important for business, political, and other leaders to consider the significant risks pornography poses to the achievement of organizational outcomes and respond accordingly.
Literature Review

Pornography is a broad term that encompasses many different facets. Because of its broad nature, we follow Negash et al. (2016) and define pornography as viewing any sexually explicit material.6 Over the last 25 years, the internet has increased access, affordability, and anonymity of pornography (Cooper et al. 2000). Psychologist term these vicissitudes the “triple-A” engine and note that they are the driving forces behind changes in pornography consumption because people can now access pornography from home or work, with anonymity, and at low (or no) cost (e.g., Cooper 1998; Cooper and Griffin-Shelley 2002). Not surprisingly, the consumption of pornographic materials has increased and is increasing successively with each new birth generation (Price et al. 2016; Wright 2013). Numerous commentaries report widespread use of pornography. For example, some note that nearly 30,000 users watch pornography every second on the internet (CNBC 2009; Ropelato 2014) and that porn sites receive more visitors than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined (Huffington Post 2013; Negash et al. 2016). More conservative estimates suggest that pornography-related internet searches account for about 13% of worldwide internet traffic (Ogas and Gaddam 2012). Although it is difficult to estimate with precision trends in pornography consumption, one can confidently conclude that pornography consumption is common, and its use has increased in recent years (e.g., Ogas and Gaddam 2012; Price et al. 2016; Wright 2013).

Pornography consumption does not appear to be isolated to a small subset of society. Recent research examining pornography consumption suggests that at a minimum 27% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 89 have viewed pornography (Wright et al. 2014) and the rate of consumption is likely considerably higher for young adults. Carroll et al. (2008) report that 87% of young-adult males and 31% of young-adult females disclose some degree of pornography consumption. The high consumption of pornography and the rate of increase in its use have spurred significant academic interest, with many studies finding deleterious effects from viewing pornography.7

While prior research documents individual and relationship consequences of pornography consumption, the literature provides considerably less evidence on how pornography consumption influences organizations and society more broadly, including how it influences businesses. We are unaware of any research that directly tests how pornography consumption influences unethical behavior. Rest (1986) defines unethical behavior as any organizational member action that violates widely accepted (societal) moral norms. This definition of unethical behavior has been used (and found descriptive) in a variety of contexts (Kaptein 2008; Kish-Gephart et al. 2010; Treviño et al. 2006); thus, we employ it as our definition of unethical behavior. In this study, we examine whether pornography consumption influences decision maker’s tendency to behave unethically. More specifically, we examine if viewing pornography increases an individual’s propensity to engage in unethical behavior, which we operationalize in two ways: (1) dishonestly abusing company policies and (2) shirking and lying about work performed. These are relevant unethical workplace behaviors; a recent survey on unethical workplace behavior reports that the five most common infractions include (1) misuse of company time, (2) abusive behavior, (3) employee theft, (4) lying, and (5) violating the company internet policy (Rodriguez 2015).

We looked to prior research to identify mechanisms that were (1) likely to intensify when consuming pornography, and (2) likely to increase unethical behavior. Prior research suggests at least two, non-mutually exclusive mechanisms for pornography consumption to influence unethical behavior: it may (1) encourage delay discounting and (2) intensify dehumanization of others (and therefore increase moral disengagement).8 Prior research posits that these mechanisms activate or intensify when viewing pornography, although, as discussed in the following sections, the evidence on the actual effect of pornography on each mechanism is nuanced. Delay discounting and dehumanization have also been linked to changes in unethical behavior. Thus, we examine the relation between pornography consumption and unethical behavior and explore whether delay discounting and dehumanization mediate the relation. In the following sections, we discuss each of these mechanisms and then present our formal hypotheses.

Delay Discounting

Delay discounting is discounting future outcomes or preferring an outcome today over a more valuable future outcome (Lawyer 2008; Negash et al. 2016; Rachlin and Green 1972). Individuals who are willing to accept more valuable future rewards than less valuable immediate rewards have lower discount rates (i.e., outcomes lose less value over time), whereas individuals who prefer immediate gratification over larger future rewards are described as having higher discount rates. As an example, someone with a high delay discounting rate would rather receive $1 now than $10 a week from now, whereas a person with a lower delay discounting rate would wait the week to receive the larger amount.

Individuals who have high discount rates are described as “impatient, impulsive, short-sighted, or lacking in self-control” (Fawcett et al. 2012, p. 128). Higher levels of delay discounting are associated with behaviors such as addictions, impulsive decision making, substance abuse, risky sexual behavior, obesity, internet addiction, criminal behavior and excessive gambling (Buzzell et al. 2006; Chesson et al. 2006; Crean et al. 2000; Davis et al. 2010; Dixon et al. 2006; Lee et al. 2017; MacKillop 2013; Romer et al. 2010; Saville et al. 2010). That is, delay discounting is a strong predictor of short-sighted behavior including unethical behavior. Lee et al. (2017) also find that increases in crime are associated with increases in delay discounting suggesting that not only do individuals with greater delay discounts behave unethically but behaving unethically also increases delay discounting. Research has also linked pornography consumption to increases in delay discounting using both laboratory experiments and data collected from the field (Lawyer 2008; Negash et al. 2016; Van den Bergh et al. 2008; Wilson and Daly 2004).

Taken together, the research suggests that pornography consumption is associated with greater delay discounting and greater delay discounting is associated with unethical behavior. This suggests that pornography consumption will cause increases in unethical behavior because of increases in delay discounting. Increases in employees’ propensity to more heavily discount future outcomes relative to short-term benefits have the potential to influence numerous unethical decisions made by employees. For example, accountants decide about “massaging” the financial statement numbers to look good immediately, often to gain higher bonuses or increase the value of their equity-based compensation, at the expense of longer-term firm value (Bergstresser and Philippon 2006; Cohen et al. 2008; Graham et al. 2005; Holderness et al. 2018). Managers often must weigh the long-term benefits associated with complying with costly environmental regulations against the short-term payoff to non-compliance. Similarly, managers may gain short-term rewards from insider trading that impose long-term cost on the manager (and even the firm). As such, increases in delay discounting from employee consumption of pornography could negatively influence numerous organizational decisions. Likewise, higher discount rates and impulsivity may lead to unethical customer behavior such as shoplifting.


Moral self-regulation is one mechanism that individuals use to ensure that their behavior corresponds to ethical standards (Bandura 1999). The self-regulation process, however, can be activated or ignored (Bandura 1999; Detert et al. 2008). Moral disengagement is the term used to describe failing to activate (or ignoring) moral self-regulation. Failing to activate moral self-regulation via moral disengagement increases unethical behavior (e.g., Bandura 1991, 1999; Detert et al. 2008; Gabbiadini et al. 2014). Bandura’s (1986) model of moral disengagement includes eight mechanisms that lead to moral disengagement of which one is dehumanization.9

Dehumanization is the psychological process of viewing and treating others like objects or as a means to an end rather than as humans (Papadaki 2010; Saul 2006).10 High levels of dehumanizing acts occur in the most popular pornographic material (Bridges et al. 2010 Klaassen and Peter 2015; McKee 2005) and thus it is a commonly held belief that pornography increases dehumanization. Hence, we focus on dehumanization as the likely path to moral disengagement from pornography consumption. Moreover, research indicates that dehumanization is an “everyday social phenomenon” that is influenced by situational factors (Haslam 2006, 937) and does not require an “in” and “out” group but can occur as an individual phenomenon (Haslam et al. 2005).

While it is a commonly held belief that the dehumanizing acts in pornography increase pornography viewers’ tendency to dehumanize people, especially women, (Fagan 2009; Schneider 2000), most evidence is only correlational, not casual. For example, Peter and Valkenburg (2007) find an association between exposure to pornography and dehumanization of women; the authors note, however, that this relation could occur because pornography encourages dehumanization or because viewers who hold women in low regard are more likely to consume pornography. Complicating the issue further is the mixed correlational evidence. McKee (2007b) found that there was no relationship between pornography consumers’ attitudes toward women and the amount of pornography consumed. Using survey evidence, Hald and Malamuth (2008) report that pornography has a positive influence on men’s perception of women.

Ward (2002) is an exception that uses an experimental design to examine the causal relation between stereotypes depicted in media and teenagers’ attitudes and assumptions about those depicted in the media content. She finds a casual relation between media dehumanizing women and viewers beliefs that women are sex objects. Ward and Friedman (2006) find similar evidence. The results in both studies are obtained from media that would not be classified as pornography (e.g., clips from television shows such as Friends and Seinfeld), but one might expect that the results would also obtain for pornographic media and that the relation might even be stronger.

In summary, although pornography tends to include dehumanizing acts, the correlational evidence on the relation between pornography and dehumanization is mixed and the experimental evidence on the relation between media that reflects common stereotypes and viewers’ attitudes about women does not examine pornographic media. Thus, there is some uncertainty as to whether pornography does increase levels of dehumanization. With this study, we hope to add to the literature on pornography by providing experimental evidence on the causal relationship between viewing pornography and dehumanization and, in turn, whether dehumanization caused by viewing pornography increases unethical behavior.

Increases in unethical behavior from dehumanization have the potential to manifest in numerous business contexts. For example, an increased tendency to lie to obtain gain and to view others only as a means to an end is likely to be highly detrimental to team effectiveness and cooperation within an organization (Moore et al. 2012). Cooperation and trust across functional areas of expertise are often necessary to achieve important firm goals (e.g., developing new products, entering new markets, increasing customer satisfaction). As such, a substantial decrease in trust and cooperation from increased employee dehumanization of others has the potential to negatively impact firm-level outcomes. In addition, in recent years organizations have made large investments in programs aimed at retaining and developing talented women.11 These investments may be severely undermined when employees, particularly those in leadership positions, consume pornography. Related, increased employee propensity to dehumanize co-workers is likely to increase the incidence of sexual harassment or hostile work environments, both of which can decrease firm productivity and lead to costly litigation.

Finally, dehumanization can also affect the customer–firm relationship. Employees treating customers like objects rather than respecting their innate value as an individual is likely to reduce customer retention and may even generate negative online or media attention. On the other hand, customers can dehumanize firms by viewing a firm as a non-human entity rather than as a collection of individuals. For example, a customer who makes a fraudulent return can dehumanize the employees of a firm by thinking that they are only decreasing the firm’s profit but are not hurting any people. By viewing the firm as an object rather than a collection of individuals, a customer places the firm between themselves and the employees of the firm, who are ultimately affected by a customer’s unethical behavior. This perspective decreases the psychological proximity a customer feels toward those who are affected by the customer’s behavior and is likely to increase unethical customer behavior (Jones 1991).12

The rise in national industry concentration in the US between 1977 and 2013 is driven by a new industrial revolution in three broad non-traded sectors: services, retail, and wholesale

The Industrial Revolution in Services. Chang-Tai Hsieh, Esteban Rossi-Hansberg. NBER Working Paper No. 25968, June 2019. https://www.nber.org/papers/w25968

Abstract: The rise in national industry concentration in the US between 1977 and 2013 is driven by a new industrial revolution in three broad non-traded sectors: services, retail, and wholesale. Sectors where national concentration is rising have increased their share of employment, and the expansion is entirely driven by the number of local markets served by firms. Firm employment per market has either increased slightly at the MSA level, or decreased substantially at the county or establishment levels. In industries with increasing concentration, the expansion into more markets is more pronounced for the top 10% firms, but is present for the bottom 90% as well. These trends have not been accompanied by economy-wide concentration. Top U.S. firms are increasingly specialized in sectors with rising industry concentration, but their aggregate employment share has remained roughly stable. We argue that these facts are consistent with the availability of a new set of fixed-cost technologies that enable adopters to produce at lower marginal costs in all markets. We present a simple model of firm size and market entry to describe the menu of new technologies and trace its implications.

Mothers tend to make calls more to their daughters than to their sons, fathers to their sons than to their daughters; for younger callers, most of their calls go to the same generation contacts, older people call the younger more frequently

Quantifying gender preferences in human social interactions using a large cellphone dataset. Asim Ghosh et al. EPJ Data Science, December 2019, 8:9 (online Mar 2019). https://link.springer.com/article/10.1140/epjds/s13688-019-0185-9

Abstract: In human relations individuals’ gender and age play a key role in the structures and dynamics of their social arrangements. In order to analyze the gender preferences of individuals in interaction with others at different stages of their lives we study a large mobile phone dataset. To do this we consider four fundamental gender-related caller and callee combinations of human interactions, namely male to male, male to female, female to male, and female to female, which together with age, kinship, and different levels of friendship give rise to a wide scope of human sociality. Here we analyse the relative strength of these four types of interaction using call detail records. Our analysis suggests strong age dependence for an individual of one gender choosing to call an individual of either gender. We observe a strong bonding with the opposite gender across most of their reproductive age. However, older women show a strong tendency to connect to another female that is one generation younger in a way that is suggestive of the grandmothering effect. We also find that the relative strength among the four possible interactions depends on phone call duration. For calls of medium and long duration, opposite gender interactions are significantly more probable than same gender interactions during the reproductive years, suggesting potential emotional exchange between spouses. By measuring the fraction of calls to other generations we find that mothers tend to make calls more to their daughters than to their sons, whereas fathers make calls more to their sons than to their daughters. For younger callers, most of their calls go to the same generation contacts, while older people call the younger people more frequently, which supports the suggestion that affection flows downward. Our study primarily rests on resolving the nature of interactions by examining the durations of calls. In addition, we analyse the intensity of the observed effects using a score based on a null model.

Keywords: Social networks Egocentric networks Mobile phones Life history Gender differences Sex differences

FF    female caller–female callee
FM    female caller–male callee
MF    male caller–female callee
MM    male caller–male callee

1 Introduction

In social interactions between humans, gender and age play a key role in the communities and social structures they form and the dynamics therein. For the caller–callee interactions in mobile communication there are four fundamental possibilities, namely male to male, male to female, female to male, and female to female, which together with age, kinship, and different levels of friendships affect the strengths of social interactions, giving rise to a wide scope of human sociality. The studies of primate brain size and its relation to their average social group size suggest that humans are able to maintain of the order of 150 stable relationships (Dunbar number) [1, 2, 3]. In addition the Social Brain hypothesis suggests that on the basis of emotional closeness human social networks can be divided into four cumulative layers of 5, 15, 50 and 150 individuals, respectively [4]. The concept of emotional closeness is, in general, hard to quantify, but previous studies have shown how it can be associated with the frequency of communication between two individuals [5, 6]. This makes the concept quantifiable such that one can observe how much an individual shares social resources with his or her contacts of different gender and age.

Over the past decade or so, much research on human communication patterns has been done by using “digital footprints” data from modern communication technologies such as mobile phone calls and text messages as well as social media like Facebook, and Twitter [7, 8, 9]. Of these the mobile phone communication data of call detail records (CDRs) has turned out to help us in getting insight into the structure and dynamics of social networks, human mobility and behavioural patterns in much finer details than before [7]. It has also revealed how microscopic properties related to individuals translate to macroscopic features of their social organization such as networks. As a result of these studies we now have quite a good understanding of a number of structural properties of human social networks such as degree, strength, clustering coefficient, community structure, and motifs [10, 11, 12].

Apart from these basic structural properties of networks, more recent studies have given us insight into a number of other aspects of social networks, namely their dependence on temporal, geographic, demographic, and behavioral factors of individuals in the network [13, 14, 15, 16, 17]. One such observation pertains to the shifting patterns of human communication across the reproductive period of their lives, which appears to reflect parental care [18, 19]. Another is a study using the postal code information in the data to show that the tie strength is related to geographical distance [20]. In addition, it has been shown that there is a universal pattern of time allocation to differently ranked social contacts [21]. Finally, recent studies indicate variation in connections and the number of friends with the age and gender [22, 23]. The importance of the strength and significance of communication with top-ranked contacts have also been studied in detail [18, 22].

In the present study, we focus on measuring the relative strengths of the four possible pairwise caller–callee interactions over their lifespans as a function of the caller’s age. From the point of view of call initiation, we find that females play a more active role during their reproductive years as well as during their grandmothering period [24, 25]. The grandmothering hypothesis is usually studied in the context of human longevity and evolutionary benefits. The notion deals with the focus of post-menopausal on their grandchildren. In general, the social focus of women are known to shift from the opposite gender in the same age cohort, when they are young, to the age cohort of their children, as they grow older. We observe that while females of grandmothering age are found to give more attention to their children, males up to the age of 50 years still keep stronger connection with their spouses of slightly younger age. Furthermore, the fraction of calls to individuals of different generations indicates that mothers tend to call their daughters more than their sons, whereas fathers call their sons more than their daughters. For younger individuals, most of their calls go to contacts of the same generation, whereas older people call younger people more frequently. The calling activity of older adults with the younger individuals who are below or around their reproductive age would signify parental and alloparental care, that is, caring for the children of children. We group these kind of behaviour as affection flows downward.

Both men and women preferred breasts of average or slightly above‐average size and high or extreme firmness; men preferred slightly bigger breasts than women

Breast firmness is of greater importance for women's attractiveness than breast size. Krzysztof Kościński. American Journal of Human Biology, June 24 2019. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajhb.23287

Objectives: Male preferences are believed to have played a role in the evolution of permanently enlarged breasts in human females. Although breast size and shape are proven to affect women's attractiveness, their relative importance has not been investigated thus far. We aime to address this gap.

Methods: We prepared two sets of stimuli, each comprising 49 high‐quality color images of a topless woman in a three‐quarter view that varied in breast size (from 1 to 7) and firmness (from 1 to 7). Set A depicted the glandular ptosis (ie, breast shape being manipulated but the nipple always directed forward), while Set B depicted true ptosis (both breast shape and nipple position being manipulated). Participants (aged 18‐45) were assigned to Set A (62 women, 60 men) or Set B (76 women, 52 men). First, each participant indicated the most attractive woman in the set of images. Next, the participant chose the more attractive woman from pairs in which one female deviated from the participant's ideal in breast size and the other in breast firmness.

Results: Both men and women preferred breasts of average or slightly above‐average size and high or extreme firmness. Glandular ptosis was as important for attractiveness as breast size, but true ptosis was of much greater importance. Men preferred slightly bigger breasts than women.

Conclusions: Further attempts to explain evolution of permanent breasts in human females should give greater attention to breast shape than has previously been the case.

Online dating provide more opportunities to find a romantic partner, but people are nevertheless more likely to be single: The continued access to virtually unlimited potential partners makes people more pessimistic & rejecting

Pronk, Tila M., dr., and Jaap J. A. Denissen. 2019. “A Rejection Mindset: Choice Overload in Online Dating.” PsyArXiv. June 25. psyarxiv.com/ajgxd

Abstract: The paradox of modern dating is that online platforms provide more opportunities to find a romantic partner than ever before, but people are nevertheless more likely to be single. We hypothesized the existence of a rejection mindset: The continued access to virtually unlimited potential partners makes people more pessimistic and rejecting. Across three studies, participants immediately started to reject more hypothetical and actual partners when dating online, cumulating on average in a decrease of 27% in chance on acceptance from the first to the last partner option. This was explained by an overall decline in satisfaction with pictures and perceived dating success. For women, the rejection mindset also resulted in a decreasing likelihood of having romantic matches. Our findings suggest that people gradually ‘close off’ from mating opportunities when online dating.

Courtship-feeding in the ‘First Dates’ restaurant is highly predictive of a second date

Courtship-feeding in the ‘First Dates’ restaurant is highly predictive of a second date. Colin Hendrie, Isolde Shirley. Appetite, June 25 2019, 104329. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2019.104329

Abstract: Food consumption is a common activity for couples when on a date. Sharing food is rated as being indicative of positive/friendly relations. One person feeding another indicates a stronger, often romantic relationship. It has been suggested that this may represent ‘courtship’ feeding that signals sexual interest. This is a low frequency behaviour however and so, many studies have used a staged interactions approach. This does not however allow the ‘courtship’ nature of the feeding to be unequivocally determined as there are no measures of outcome. The present study was conducted in an attempt to address this using broadcast footage of ‘First Dates’ (Twenty Twenty TV), a restaurant-based TV reality show where couples that have met for the first time eat a meal together. 792 dinner dates were analysed over 143 episodes. Feeding behaviour, where one person fed another, was seen in 58 male/female couples (mean age females = 26.21 ± 0.58, mean age males = 28.75 ± 0.86). 49 similarly aged couples where no feeding behaviour was observed were used as controls. Data revealed that females acted as feeders more often than males (38/58, 65.5%), that dessert was the most commonly fed course (41/58, 70.7%), with chocolate being the most common component (22/41, 53.6%) and that nearly all couples where feeding had been observed stated in a post-meal interview that they would wish to go on a second date (54/58, 93.1%), as compared to less than half of couples that did not food share (21/49, 42.9%). It is concluded that feeding behaviour in the ‘First Dates’ restaurant is indeed courtship behaviour, and that this is highly predictive of those couples agreeing to a second date.

Cooperation & Learning in Unfamiliar Situations:The evidence is more consistent with the idea that people stop cooperating in unfamiliar situations because they learn that it does not help them, either financially or through social approval

Cooperation and Learning in Unfamiliar Situations. William H. B. McAuliffe, Maxwell N. Burton-Chellew, Michael E. McCullough. Current Directions in Psychological Science, June 24, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721419848673

Abstract: Human social life is rife with uncertainty. In any given encounter, one can wonder whether cooperation will generate future benefits. Many people appear to resolve this dilemma by initially cooperating, perhaps because (a) encounters in everyday life often have future consequences, and (b) the costs of alienating oneself from long-term social partners often outweighed the short-term benefits of acting selfishly over our evolutionary history. However, because cooperating with other people does not always advance self-interest, people might also learn to withhold cooperation in certain situations. Here, we review evidence for two ideas: that people (a) initially cooperate or not depending on the incentives that are typically available in their daily lives and (b) also learn through experience to adjust their cooperation on the basis of the incentives of unfamiliar situations. We compare these claims with the widespread view that anonymously helping strangers in laboratory settings is motivated by altruistic desires. We conclude that the evidence is more consistent with the idea that people stop cooperating in unfamiliar situations because they learn that it does not help them, either financially or through social approval.

Keywords: cooperation, prediction error, economic games, altruism, habit

Contrary to assumption, it appears that sleep duration in the absence of electricity is not significantly longer than it is in contemporary Western society

Chapter 21 - Hunter-Gatherer Sleep and Novel Human Sleep Adaptations. Gandhi Yetish, Ronald McGregor. Handbook of Behavioral Neuroscience, Volume 30, 2019, Pages 317-331. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-813743-7.00021-9

Abstract: In this volume, we review sleep in diverse, nonelectric populations worldwide and present some background on the different lifestyles of these populations. In particular, we focus on hunter-gatherers and foragers, because humans lived as foragers, exclusively, since we first evolved, 315,000 years ago, until the first recorded instance of agriculture, 9500 years ago. While modern foragers cannot be seen as an analogue for the past, they do present a unique lens to study how people's biology and behavior respond to contemporary hunting and gathering conditions. Rather than advance arguments that one population sleeps better than all the rest, we approach sleep as an adaptation, shaped by natural selection, that allows people to best fit their sleep into their specific conditions. We discuss how this approach can improve our understanding of worldwide variation in sleep and suggest some ways it may apply to sleep patterns in the West as well.

In an era where expertise is increasingly critiqued, we draw from the research on expertise & scientist stereotyping to explore who the public considers to be a scientist in the context of media coverage about climate change & GMOs

Public perceptions of who counts as a scientist for controversial science. Brianne Suldovsky, Asheley Landrum, Natalie Jomini Stroud. Public Understanding of Science, June 24, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1177/0963662519856768

Abstract: In an era where expertise is increasingly critiqued, this study draws from the research on expertise and scientist stereotyping to explore who the public considers to be a scientist in the context of media coverage about climate change and genetically modified organisms. Using survey data from the United States, we find that political ideology and science knowledge affect who the US public believes is a scientist in these domains. Our results suggest important differences in the role of science media attention and science media selection in the publics “scientist” labeling. In addition, we replicate previous work and find that compared to other people who work in science, those with PhDs in Biology and Chemistry are most commonly seen as scientists.

Keywords: climate change, expertise, genetically modified organisms, media, scientist stereotypes

More lobbying with economic concentration through corporate mergers and acquisitions & to defend themselves against increasingly liberal Democrats

The Political and Economic Roots of Corporate Political Activity. William Massengill. 2019, PhD Thesis, Ohio State University, Political Science. http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=osu1553961091240596

Abstract: Scholars, journalists, and pundits frequently bemoan the rising involvement of large corporations in American politics. But the ability of firms to influence policymakers often depends on features of their political and economic environments, as well as internal constraints, such as organizational structure and business decisions. Unfortunately, however, we know relatively little about how some of the most important recent political and economic trends affect firm political decisions. This dissertation uses novel data to examine how two of these trends - party polarization in American legislatures and economic concentration through corporate mergers and acquisitions - affect the lobbying efforts and PAC contributions of large corporations. I find that, in some ways, each of these trends increases corporate political involvement. Specifically, corporations lobby more, and harder, as legislatures polarize, but they do so primarily in response to rising liberalism among Democrats. I also find that corporate acquisitions prompt purchasers to become more politically engaged. After acquiring a large firm (i.e., a target firm), purchasers direct PAC contributions to more candidates, many of whom were supported by the target prior to the acquisition. In addition, purchasers increase their lobbying efforts to some extent: they hire more lobbyists and lobby on more bills. These results suggest that the rising economic power of large firms has facilitated their increasingly intense involvement in American politics. In acquiring other firms, purchasers obtain political as well as economic resources. And they appear to use these resources to defend their interests against increasingly liberal Democrats.